The state Office of Elections issued its report Thursday concerning how the County of Hawaii handled the Primary Election. In a six-page report, Scott Nago, head of the state election’s office, ripped into Jamae Kawauchi, who as County Clerk also serves as the Hawaii County election chief. Nago said he sent a state staff member to observe the election at the Hilo county building and found ” poor planning, implementation, and leadership by the County Clerk.” Nago, however, praised county staff and volunteers who “did their best under the circumstances and were able to get through the election.” He said while the public’s confidence had been undermine, but the problems did not meet the standards used to determine whether final results might have been impacted.
Nago further criticized Kawauchi’s performance: “Essentially, the County Clerk on election day is supposed to be like a field general with a plan of attack, who acts confidently, and has the support of his or her troops. The County Clerk was in no way, shape, or form that type of leader.” Kawauchi issued a response later Thursday, saying she was unaware the state office was conducting an investigation and calling Nago’s assessment overly critical.
Kawauchi also said Nago is “failing to see that the big picture goal is to get through the elections.” In addition, she noted elections are a collaboration between state and county agencies and “I welcome any assistance that Mr. Nago can give me because I do want to do a good job in running the elections.”