After a week of not responding to reporters’ inquiries as well as calls from state elections and political campaign officials, Hawaii County Clerk Jamae Kawauchi told reporters at the State Capitol Tuesday why she closed her office in Hilo for a day last week and went to the state Attorney General’s office. She said her office discovered several dozen Hawaii Island voters with duplicate voter registrations and found about four people who voted twice in the same elections in 2010. Sources told Hawaii News Now this is a case of a rookie county clerk who’s never overseen an election over reacting to some routine voter problems that should have been discovered months or weeks ago, not less than three weeks before the primary election. After meeting with state’s chief election officer and the county clerks of the other three counties in Honolulu, Kawauchi spoke to reporters in the State Senate chambers, where elections officials are preparing to count votes in the Aug. 11 primary. She said she closed her office July 23 to conduct an audit of Hawaii County voter rolls and found 50 to 60 Big Island voters were registered to vote twice.
“Between 50 and 60 voters had duplicate names. They were in different districts and precincts. There was no pattern. And my understanding is that is typical of … I don’t think it’s out of the ordinary,” Kawauchi said. Sources familiar with the situation said Kawauchi “freaked out” when she discovered the errors, considered routine by more experienced election experts, since there are about 101,000 people registered to vote on the island of Hawaii.
She closed her office for a day and never sought help from other counties or the state, causing concern among politicians, other election officials and some members of the public. “The usual course is a review (of the voter rolls) as you go along. Corrections as you go along. So I wouldn’t necessarily say it’s (closing the office for an audit) necessary. It’s something that I just chose to do to cross the Ts and dot our Is,” Kawauchi told reporters.