A lawmaker from Hawaii’s Big Island wants to hold Hawaii’s Chief Elections Officer Scott Nago accountable for voting problems that she says denied residents of her district the right to vote. Tropical Storm Iselle hit Hawaii’s Big Island a few days before Hawaii’s primary election last year, felling hundreds of trees and knocking out power to thousands of residents. Voting was postponed in two precincts. But some residents in the precincts where the polls were open had blocked driveways or were too busy struggling without power or water to vote. A makeup election was called, but many Puna residents weren’t sure who could participate, and the instructions were changed with just a few days’ notice, said Rep. Joy San Buenaventura, a Big Island Democrat.
“They felt really disenfranchised,” San Buenaventura said. “They felt that their vote didn’t count. Hundreds of them were prevented after Iselle from physically going to the voting booth, and when they tried to vote in the makeup election, they were denied.”
During that same election, hundreds of Maui voters’ absentee ballots were lost and then found.
Issues arose again during the general election, when lava from an active volcano was bearing down on Puna, and residents got what they felt were confusing instructions about how to vote, San Buenaventura said.