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Results of elections inquiry won't be revealed until Jan. 25

By Andrew Pereira
Published On: Jan 11 2013 06:18:00 PM HST

The ballot shortage during last year's General Election was called a blunder and a fiasco.

HONOLULU -

The investigation of widespread ballot shortages that plagued Oahu voters on Election Day is finished, but the thoroughness of the probe is now being brought into question.

The Elections Commission formed a two-member subcommittee to head up the inquiry, led by members Daniel Young and Zale Okazaki. However, during a Friday meeting it was revealed that Young and Okazaki had no staff, no budget and no professional help. Commission members are appointed by members of the state House and Senate, and receive no compensation for their work.

"The subcommittee on their own went and interviewed, as I mentioned (in the hearing), a number of people in the Office of Elections," said William Marston, chairman of the Elections Commission.  "There was nobody hired from the outside."

West Oahu activist Carroll Cox and Marsha Joyner of the Hawaii Martin Luther King Jr. Coalition attended the meeting. Both raised pointed questions about the subcommittee's effectiveness.

"Surely, when you ask people to do an investigation (and) you don't give them staff and you don't give them money, then we have to question how the process worked," said Joyner.  

Cox's questions focused on who Young and Okazaki interviewed, and what criteria they used to conduct the probe.

"What was the mission statement?" Cox asked. "Was it just a scavenger hunt, or was it specific?"

Young and Okazaki presented their findings behind closed doors in executive session, but Marston confirmed it was done orally, and no written document was presented.

Under Hawaii law, the commission can only present its findings to the public during the next scheduled hearing on Jan. 25. That's also when Chief Elections Officer Scott Nago may find out whether he gets to keep his job.

"There will be a number of decisions made, I'm sure," said Marston. "We will hopefully clean it all up at that time."

However, Young told Joyner a list of people who he and Okazaki interviewed, as well as what was said, may not be made public due to privacy issues.

"We're not trying to avoid your question, but we need to comply and follow the law the way it's spelled out," he said.

At least 51 polling sites on Oahu were either short of ballots, or ran completely out during the Nov. 6 general election. Nago has blamed the shortage on an incorrect formula, and said it wouldn't happen again.

"This is now a possible issue, and this is something that we will be checking to make sure there's no single point of failure," said Nago.  

In November, Nago revealed that Lori Tomscyk, who was overseeing ballot operations on the Big Island during the general election, was relieved of her duties after she came up with the calculation on how many ballots to order.

When asked about his job security, Nago deflected the question, saying only that he was focused on planning elections slated for 2014.

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