Election Commission says standard procedures will be implemented

By Lara Yamada
Published On: Jan 25 2013 05:30:00 PM HST

Two months after the massive ballot shortage, some feel that failure is the same way as the punishment handed down.

HONOLULU -

"This is terrible," said one man standing in line on election night.

"People are leaving, they're saying heck with this," said a precinct official at the same location.

The outcry was deafening after ballot shortages led to lines that were hours long.

After more than 50 Oahu polling places ran short or ran out of ballots on Election Day many people demanded the state's chief election officer be fired.

"Something is wrong," said another woman who'd been waiting in line for two hours.

"Quite simply, there must be a change in leadership," said Sen. Sam Slom at a meeting a month later.

"I thought it was really bad because people lost their vote, their say," said Julia Allen, who is on the St. Louis Neighborhood Board. She said at one point, there were more Japanese language ballots than English ballots.

Officials determined a miscalculation in ballot orders was the biggest problem, along with poor communication and poor training.

"This was a series of mistakes, almost like a perfect storm," said Election Commission chair Bill Martson.

"This is a cloud over all of us. We want this to be resolved," said Maui County Chief Election Officer Jeff Kuada.

But after a series of meetings, on Friday, the Election Commission said no one should lose their job - not even Chief Elections Officer Scott Nago.

It was a recommendation that sparked support and fresh criticism.

"It's my feeling that he dealt with a lot. He had a lot on his plate," said Kuada, who came out in support of Nago on Friday.

"We've got bad performance, bad work, and bad consequences, and yet no one takes action. They've wasted everybody's time because they're doing nothing," said Slom, who's been demanding Nago's resignation for months.

"We've identified the problem and we've figured out what we can do so we don't repeat that problem," said Nago.

He said the election office has changed its ballot order formula, is submitting evaluations, and is holding all employees more accountable.

"This is just the beginning. This is not enough," said Commissioner Danny Young, who was part of a two-member task force charged with getting to the bottom of what happened.

Young said he interviewed several elections managers and said more training, regular evaluations and standard operating procedures will be implemented.

But it may be a tough sell to voters still stunned by a major election blunder.

"I think people will remember this the next time they vote. I don't think people will have forgotten," said Allen.

Young said they didn't prepare a formal report because they didn't know what to expect in their inquiry, so they weren't sure how to format a report around it.

Slom called a lack of a report "totally inappropriate" and says an independent study of what went wrong still needs to happen.

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