The State Office of Elections on Monday, August 27, hosted a meeting on Oahu for all the County Elections Offices to meet with the representatives of the company that supplies the electronic voting hardware and software for Hawaii elections. Hawaii County was the only county not represented.
The Counties of Honolulu, Maui, and Kaua’i sent elections supervisors and administrators, warehouse supervisors, and some Deputy County Clerks. The meeting is a standard practice after all elections for all four counties, the State, and the vendor, Hart InterCivic™.
Maui County Clerk Jeff Kuwada said the post-election debriefing is essential to the process of making continuous, incremental improvement in election management and methodology. He said it’s an opportunity for the participating parties to share information concerning, for example:
-Problems encountered delivering and collecting electronic voting equipment; and
-Equipment problems that may have been encountered on Primary Election day by polling place workers or counting center personnel; etc.
If problems were encountered, the parties discuss solutions and a timetable for implementation like changing procedures or engaging in additional training.
Kuwada said he did not attend the debriefing, but did send four representatives: Maui County Deputy Clerk, Elections Administrator, Senior Elections Clerk, and warehouse supervisor. Kuwada said one of his goals as County Clerk is to ensure that as many people as possible are trained and cross-trained, so on Election Day, there are many people who know the inner workings of the elections process. He said that will help ensure the process goes as smoothly as possible and that problems, which always arise, are handled efficiently.
Hawaii County Clerk Jamae Kawauchi advised the State Office of Elections last Thursday via email that she would be unavailable for today’s debriefing. She did not say why she was not sending any of the Elections Office staff nor the Deputy County Clerk.
County Council Chair Dominic Yagong says he is now going to take a far more active role in helping lead Hawaii County Elections Office, despite saying right after he lost in his bid to become Hawaii County Mayor that he would focus his time on getting his daughter, Chelsea Yagong, elected as County Council Member for District 1. Chair Yagong said he met Monday morning with County Clerk Jamae Kawauchi. She told Yagong that she would fly to Oahu later this week and set up a one-on-one meeting with HART to review any issues. But Kuwada said “When all participate in the debriefing, we all learn from one another. Given her lack of experience, it occurs to me that the Hawaii County Clerk could and should participate with all of us in order to learn from the experiences of others.”
At the Hawaii County Council Special Meeting on Monday, August 20, Kawauchi told the County Council members she would be willing to accept help from the State to ensure the General Election goes well. So far, she has declined to participate in last Wednesday’s Election Commission meeting and in today’s voting machine debriefing.
Deputy County Clerk Steve Lopez, whom Kawauchi blamed for several of the elections day problems including late delivery of the poll books (voter lists) to four West Hawaii precincts and who said in the County Council meeting that he’d received hardly any election procedures training, said Monday that Kawauchi did not tell him about nor ask him to attend the Voting Machine Debrief. He said he was told today by Council Chair Yagong that Kawauchi would be taking vacation this week.
Kawauchi may be “on vacation,” but staff members report she’s in the Hilo Elections Office working with all the official records from the Primary Day election on August 11.