Hawaii County Election Woes Getting State, National Attention

October 4, 2012

The Honolulu Star-Advertiser has two columns in Thursday’s edition devoted to Hawaii County’s election woes.  Their editorial points out that the State’s action in taking over the bulk of Hawaii County’s election responsibilities, except for voter registration and absentee ballots, is warranted, but not ideal.  They say County Clerks should be required by the neighbor island County Councils to undergo thorough instruction by the State Elections Office on how to exercise proper control of elections, which is part of their responsibility.  (The other County Clerks have served for several years, and all have experienced elections administrators; Hawaii County Clerk only took the job in December, 2010 and terminated the longtime elections administrator.  When the elections administrator was reinstated, the County Clerk put her on fully paid leave.)

Cynthia Oi, in her column “Under the Sun,” points out that Hawaii is now getting negative publicity nationally for two reasons:  the Hawaii County primary elections “fiasco,” as she puts it,  and Hawaii’s low voter turnout.  She says Hawaii officials can’t be pleased about the negative publicity.   She says a post on CNN’s blog highlights the Hawaii County elections miscommunications and late opening polls.  The blog quotes a Hilo man’s letter to the Hawaii Tribune-Herald saying after he spent 1 1/2 hours trying to vote, he may not waste his time trying to vote again.  CNN Reporter John Sutter has been here on the island and interviewed some Hawaii County precinct workers and citizens who had difficulty voting.

Oi says in the 1960s, nearly all of Hawaii’s registered voters made it to the polls, down to the 40% range in recent past years until native son Barack Obama ran for President.  Oi points out that this year’s elections has several significant races nationally and locally.  She says “Those who don’t invest in voting relinquish their stake in laws, decisions, powers, and controls of leadership in government.”

The complete editorial  and Oi’s column are  online at www.staradvertiser.com

The CNN blog by John Sutter is at http://cnnchangethelist.tumblr.com/

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