Voters wait in line at Holy Trinity to vote on election day 2012
Voters wait in line at Holy Trinity after the precinct runs out of paper ballots

BY MALIA ZIMMERMAN – The Hawaii Elections Commission has moved up its meeting from December to the last week of November after voters across the Big Island and Oahu have complained about the management of the 2012 Primary and General Elections.

The meeting, which is open to the public, is scheduled for Tuesday, November 27 at 10 a.m. in the State Office Tower in Honolulu.

During the August 11 Primary election in Hawaii county, several polling locations experienced problems, opening late and without the proper equipment. Gov. Neil Abercrombie delayed the closing of the polls on Hawaii island. The state Office of Elections took over management of the General Election from the Hawaii County Clerk after numerous complaints were filed.

While elections rans smoothly on Hawaii Island during the General Election on November 6, on Oahu it was a very different matter.

State elections officials confirmed 24 out of 140 polling places on Oahu ran out of paper ballots during the General Election. The number was originally reported as 5 polling places, but by the day after the election, that number had increased by nearly five times.

With just one electronic voting machine at each location, only about 10 voters per hour could be accommodated. Others waited in line for sometimes as long as three hours for additional paper ballots to arrive.

League of Women Voters President Beppie Shapiro said problems spanned from ballot shortages and incorrect ballots, to excessive wait times for determination of eligibility to vote and long lines at polling places.

“These voter access problems undermine the most fundamental feature of a democracy, a citizen’s right to vote. With Hawaii’s dismal voter participation rate receiving national attention, the League is distressed to learn that many people who tried to vote in Tuesday’s election found the process so onerous that they gave up and did not complete ballots. This is unfair to candidates as well as to voters,” Shapiro said.

State Elections Office spokesman Rex Quidilla said the elections staff realized too late that the ballot order was incorrect. As the election staff rushed to deliver more ballots at locations across the island, their progress was slowed by afternoon traffic.

Quidilla said the election administrators apologized for the error that left people across the island frustrated, and led some to leave the polls without voting.

The League of Women Voters of Hawaii called on the Hawaii State Legislature to take action.

“We ask the Legislature to respond to this review as necessary to ensure that in future elections voters are not faced with avoidable inconvenience and frustration as occurred in Hawaii County on August 11 and in Honolulu City and County on November 6, 2012,” said League President Beppie Shapiro.

Shapiro said the League of Women Voters believes the public deserves to know why the problems occurred, and what needs to be done to improve the voting process and ensure that the state does not face similar problems in the 2014 elections.

On November 14, the Honolulu City Council passed a unanimous resolution requesting Gov. Abercrombie conduct an investigation into the November 6 General Election.

Councilman Tom Berg, who introduced the resolution, said “It is our duty and obligation to speak up and restore faith in the voting process. To sit back and do nothing is inexcusable. We must, as an elected body, take action.”

More on the web:

See the agenda here: http://hawaii.gov/elections/ec/

Hawaii Election Commission members:
Name Appointing Authority Island Representation Term Expiration Date
Daniel Young

House Speaker

Oahu

06/30/16

Warren Orikasa

House Speaker

Maui

06/30/14

Margaret Masunaga

Senate President

Hawaii

06/30/14

Zale Okazaki

Senate President

Oahu

06/30/16

Patricia Berg

Senate Minority Leader

Kauai

06/30/14

Carol Kitaoka

Senate Minority Leader

Hawaii

06/30/16

Xara T. Marshall

House Minority Leader

Maui

06/30/16

Charles King

House Minority Leader

Kauai

06/30/14

William Marston
(Chairperson)

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