Public outrage is on the rise after more information about the Office of Elections management failures on General Election Day is documented. Hundreds of people at 24 precincts around Oahu waited as long as three hours to vote because of ballot shortages. In some cases, people left without voting because they could not wait.
Callers to local talk shows are demanding a revote. Several note the precincts that ran out of ballots were largely in districts that opposed the controversial $5.2 billion rail project and supported the mayoral candidacy of former Gov. Ben Cayetano. Cayetano lost the election to union-backed Kirk Caldwell after a substantial lead in the polls.
In response to public outcry, the Honolulu City Council passed a unanimous resolution on Wednesday requesting Gov. Neil 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.”
Election officials have disclosed that 24 out of 140 polling places on the island of Oahu ran out of paper ballots during the General Election. (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.
The League of Women Voters of Hawaii earlier 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 that voting is a fundamental citizen right that must be protected.
“Problems encountered in the November 6 General Election, which included ballot shortages, incorrect ballots which did not reflect the candidates for the district, excessive wait times for determination of eligibility to vote or of correct polling site, turning away voters who did not provide a photo ID, and long lines at polling places,” Shapiro said. “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.”
Citizens of Hawaii deserve 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, Shapiro maintained.
State Elections Office spokesman Rex Quidilla explained the reasons the shortages occurred is because 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.
Quidilla said no candidate has 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.