Election officials are preparing for the possibility that the Puna lava flow could potentially disrupt voting in next month’s general election. Hawaii’s election chief outlined plans at a state Elections Commission meeting on Friday, but some critics fear a repeat of problems that happened during the primary due to Tropical Storm Iselle. “Please prevent another man-made disaster caused by the Elections Office,” said State Sen. Russell Ruderman (D-Puna, Kau). He recommended mail-in ballots only for next month’s election for precincts in lower Puna that could be affected by the lava. “We do not know at this time which precincts will be accessible, which neighborhoods will be accessible,” said Ruderman.
But Chief Election Officer Scott Nago said that under the law, he couldn’t carry out Ruderman’s suggestion.
“In order for us to send out absentee ballots, accessibility has to be substantially impeded right now, which it isn’t,” Nago explained.
With some families moving out of harm’s way, the state mailed an application for an absentee ballot to nearly 8,000 voters in three precincts last week.