After more than four hours of public testimony, a report from the County Clerk and discussion, the County Council simply closed the file at a special meeting Monday in Hilo. The council didn’t have any actionable items on the special meeting agenda, so could not vote on motions or resolutions other than to accept a report on the Primary Election. Council Chairman Dominic Yagong called the meeting to receive a report from County Clerk Jamae Kawauchi, who as the county’s chief elections official oversaw the problem-plagued Primary Election. Her report largely blamed the state Office of Elections, which she said did not clear up problems she identified last year — mostly involving planning, communication and listening to input — and has taken no responsibility for “serious mishaps” on election day.
She also said she was “deeply concerned” about election irregularities that might necessitate a full-blown investigation. “As the chief elections officer for the County of Hawaii, no one can be more concerned than I am about the problems that occurred on election day,” Kawauchi said in her report.
Pointing to “unforeseen technical and operational problems, including equipment malfunction and the untimely delivery of supplies to polling places,” Kawauchi said the “mistakes and accidents” snowballed and caused polling places to open late. “The affect that the late opening of polling places had on any single Hawaii Island voter was of tremendous concern to me,” she said.