Election officials have confirmed 24 out of 140 polling places on the island of Oahu ran out of paper ballots during the General Election on Tuesday, November 6. (See the list here – BALLOT INVENTORY ISSUES BY POLLING PLACE).
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 more than hour for additional paper ballots to arrive.
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.
At Holy Trinity Church in Hawaii Kai, the precinct ran out of paper ballots around 4:15 p.m. Additional paper ballots did not arrive until about an hour later. Voters were issued numbers on scraps of paper to determine their order, and within the hour, a volunteer on scene said more than a hundred scraps of paper had been issued. Many people sat in the bleachers or on the ground as the minutes passed.
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.
“We have apologized publicly for the error. It was an error. When you do a ballot order, you don’t build it to fail, but it did,” Quidilla said.
Michael W. Perry of KSSK’s Perry & Price Show has been critical of the Office of Elections’ management of the General Election during his popular morning radio talk show.
“It is so disappointing,” said of the ballot shortage. “The price of paper is not exorbitant.”
He told Hawaii Reporter: “They should have just printed more ballots. It is the job of the Office of Elections to count paper and they could not even get that right.”
While some voters have alleged the ballot troubles may have hurt their favorite candidates, Quidilla said no candidate as filed a formal complaint. If any candidates do opt to file a challenge to the election results, the complaint will go directly to the Hawaii Supreme Court for consideration.
On Hawaii Island, meanwhile, where several polls experienced problems during the August 11, 2012, Primary Election, all went smoothly during the General. The state Office of Elections took over the election management from the Hawaii County Clerk after numerous complaints. Maui and Kauai did experience a shortage of paper ballots but were able to correct the problem quickly without inconveniencing the public, Quidilla said.