The Hawaii County Clerk finally issued a press release, the first since Saturday’s Primary Election. On that day she issued a Press Release to select media (excluding the Hawaii Tribune Herald, Hawaii Public Radio, Big Island Chronicle, Big Island Video News, LAVA 105, and Big Island News Center, among others) at 9:09 a.m. stating that one election site, Kahakai School, had opened at 8:35 a.m., late because of “supply problems.” At 4:30 p.m. that day, she issued a press release that did include most of the Hawaii Island media, announcing that at 2:30 p.m. Governor Abercrombie had issued a press release that the polling locations on Hawaii Island would be open until 7:30 p.m.
The County Clerk, Jamae Kawauchi, has issued no media statements since then. She met with the State Office of Elections and all the County Clerks (Maui, Kaua’i, Oahu) on Tuesday in Hilo, for a debrief on the State Elections. After that meeting, State Elections Chief Scott Nago said there had been few answers about any Hawaii County elections issues, so the State would be conducting its own investigation. On Thursday at 9:32 p.m.,Kawauchi issued a rebuttal to the scathing elections report issued earlier in the day by State Elections Chief Scott Nago.
Her response, verbatim:
Today, the Hawai’i County Clerk issued a response to the State of Hawai’i Office of Elections report.
“I note that in the usual course, if an investigation is conducted, notice and an opportunity to respond is expected, prior to the release of the findings of the investigation to the public and the media.
Regrettably, Mr. Nago did not provide me with an opportunity to respond to his report or to provide comment prior to release. He could have informed me on Tuesday, August 14, 2012 at the Office of Elections Debriefing held in Hilo, Hawai’i. I was not aware that he was investigating the County of Hawai’i and drafting a report until after a reporter contacted me today for comment.
This lack of communication on his part does not help to improve or address the significant issues that Hawai’i County and the State Office of Elections obviously need to overcome to work together in partnership to run an election.
I strongly disagree with the State Office of Elections and their assessment that there was failed leadership, poor planning and implementation by me on Primary Election Day. Yes there were errors that occurred on Primary Election Day. However this is not a perfect system, mistakes will be made and 100% accuracy should not be expected. Mr. Nago is being overly critical and he is failing to see that the big picture goal is to get through the elections.
Further, elections require the cooperation of the state and the counties working together and not pointing fingers at each other. I welcome any assistance that Mr. Nago can give me because I do want to do a good job in running the elections.
Note also that I held two meetings in West Hawai’i this week, including a meeting with seven (7) precinct officials in West Hawaii on 08-15-2012. We discussed the mistakes that had occurred on Primary Election Day and the solutions that we can work toward for an improved experience for the General Election. This tells me that Hawai’i County is moving forward to doing everything that we can to have a fair and well run election for the General.”
Editor note: Kawauchi does not mention what the second meeting in West Hawaii was, so it is possibly the meeting she held with member of the Kona Tea Party at Boston Basil’s Restaurant on Tuesday evening, August 14, at which she discussed the Election Day issues after meeting that very day with the State Office of Elections personnel and all the other County Clerks and was unable to respond to their inquiries. Big Island News Center called Ms. Kawauchi within 7 minutes of receiving the press release to get further detail, but there was no response at the number Kawauchi listed as hers to call with questions. We also sent an email with the same inquiry.
Read the State Elections report here: http://www.bigislandnewscenter.com/state-elections-issues-official-election-report-giving-hawaii-county-a-black-eye/