Election Reforms Urged after Big Island Fiasco - Hawaii News Now - KGMB and KHNL

Election Reforms Urged after Big Island Fiasco

Duke Aiona Duke Aiona
Lt. Gov. Brian Schatz (on left) Lt. Gov. Brian Schatz (on left)
Jamae Kawauchi Jamae Kawauchi
HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) -

The Big Island election debacle has prompted calls for reforms of the voting process.

Current and former state officials say -- the delays in poll openings undermined the public's confidence in Hawaii's election system -- and they say an overhaul is needed.

The proposed remedies range from a state takeover of all election functions, increased accountability for elections officials and more funding and training are among the ideas.

"If you had accountability you wouldn't have to wait for something like this to happen where you have basically a traumatic experience and one that I believe affected the elections on the neighbor islands, said former Lt. Gov. Duke Aiona.

Aiona said the state should return management of the state office of elections to the Lt. Governor, who answers to voters.

The Lt. Governors' office used to run elections in Hawaii but starting in 1995, that job was transferred to the county clerks, who are civil servants and are not elected.

Current Lt. Gov. Brian Schatz says that approach would be premature. He says the state should first conduct a review of how best to manage elections.

He's also in favor of additional funding and training.

"As bad as this problem is we also don't want to overcompensate. We basically want to solve this problem and make sure it never happens again."

Delays in poll openings last Saturday prompted Gov. Neil Abercrombie to extend voting on the big island by one and a half hours.

The move came after Big Island County Clerk Jamae Kawauchi reported that as many as 25 of 40 precincts had opened late.

A review by the state office of elections, found that the delays were due to communications glitches and bad planning on the part of the county clerk's office. The state elections office also found delays in just 13 of those precincts.

On Monday, Kawauchi will go before the Big Island County Council to explain her office's handling of the elections.

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