Election Commission retains embattled election chief Scott Nago

Election Commission retains embattled election chief Scott Nago
Published: May. 18, 2015 at 5:14 PM HST|Updated: May. 18, 2015 at 8:31 PM HST
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After an hour-long executive session, the State of Hawaii Election Commission announced a vote of confidence for Scott Nago.

"The Commission has voted today to retain Scott Nago as Chief Election Officer," commission chairman William Marston said.

The vote was 6 to 3. Nago gets another four-year term.

"I'm grateful but we still gotta do the election," Nago said.

Marston called Nago honest and knowledgeable. But Nago has been criticized for election problems. In 2012 Oahu precincts ran out of paper ballots. In 2014, 800 Maui ballots went uncounted until the error was caught and Puna precincts were closed because of Tropical Storm Iselle.

"You don't have to worry about what other people are going to say, as long as you know what you did is the best job that you can do, and the right thing you can do," Nago said.
The meeting featured a video hookup with Hawaii County, Kauai and Maui counties.  But no one showed up at the neighbor island sites to testify, and only two people showed up at the Kapolei meeting to testify in person. Both supported giving Nago another term.

"When I needed clarifications of processes because the elections process we deal with is overwhelming, the Chief Election Officer was there," Maui County clerk Danny Mateo told commission members.

"My experience compared to other states, we have somebody who really cares" election observer Cindy Vaillancourt said.

Some believe a bill before Gov. David Ige makes it easier for the Commission to fire the Election Chief. Marston disagrees.

"The Commission has always had the responsibility, has always had the ability to remove the Chief Election Officer and have a meeting and discuss that," he said.

Nago earns about $80,000 a year.

"It never was about the money," Nago said. "It's just about doing the job."

In July, the Commission meets again to discuss his salary.

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