Report reveals ballot mix-up in Hawaii's general election

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Dozens of people on Oahu and the Big Island cast votes in the wrong races during the general election, according to a report prepared by the chief election officer. The State Elections Commission will review the findings on Tuesday and hear from concerned parties like the League of Women Voters.

"We encountered some very serious problems during the election season, both the primary and the general," said Janet Mason of the League of Women Voters of Hawaii.

The report revealed that reserve ballots rushed to Hokulani Elementary and Waialae Elementary toward the end of the day were switched. 57 people cast ballots in State House, State Senate, and City Council races that they weren't eligible to vote on. As a result, their votes in those contests weren't counted. The Office of Elections later found the margins of victory were large enough that the affected ballots wouldn't have altered the outcomes of those races.

"You cannot have a situation in which people believe that their candidate may have suffered adversely as a result of mechanical or administrative snags," said Gov. Neil Abercrombie during a news conference in which he supported a switch to 100% mail-in voting.

Over on the Big Island, a fill-in precinct official mistakenly allowed 10 people to vote at Kahakai Elementary instead of their proper polling place. Again, election officials determined those ballots would not have changed any results.

"I think the legislature will inevitably take up the question of whether the existing Office of Elections is the best way to create the maximum amount of confidence in the voters," said Abercrombie.

24 polling sites on Oahu ran out of paper ballots. Scott Nago's report indicates the state used a deficient model for ordering ballots and failed to follow safeguards to reallocate them before election day. The Office of Elections also didn't deploy additional ballots in a timely manner.

"These problems don't mean that Hawaii should sacrifice an independent, nonpartisan elections office. That's very important. We would not support having an elections office that reported to an elected executive," said Mason.

Nago was chosen by the nine-member Elections Commission. The panel is appointed by leaders in the state legislature.

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