Statewide ballot order based on primary voter registration

By Lara Yamada
Published On: Nov 07 2012 07:30:00 PM HST

The Office of Elections talks about local ballot shortages during the 2012 General Election.

HONOLULU -

"We made a mistake." That was the bottom line from the chief elections officer on Wednesday.

On Oahu, 73 polling places ran low on ballots on general election night, with 23 locations running out of ballots completely.

"You call us out to vote, we came, and now, you can't handle it," said Doug Stancil.

By the time polls were supposed to close at six Tuesday night, dozens of polling places were out of ballots, lines were out the door, and voters were relegated to a single electronic ballot machine.

"We have people who this is the first time they've been voting, and it was a discouraging, demoralizing thing for them," said Ruth Brown, a Ma'ili poll watcher.

"We want to apologize to all the voters who were impacted by the amount of ballots at various polling places across the city & county of Honolulu. This will not happen again," chief elections officer Scott Nago told the media on Wednesday.

Nago said the office decided to base the number of ballots ordered for the general election on the number of voters in the primary which is typically an election with much lower turn out. As to why:

"Ultimately it was just a bad call on our part. The numbers were based on the primary with an inflation rate included and we just got it wrong," he said.

KITV received numerous reports of other issues, including difficulty reaching elections officials to report problems, or when reserves arrived, receiving the wrong ballots, and redistricted voters showing up at the wrong place.

"Our precinct captain called, and called, and called," said poll watcher Tadd Reinstra.

"When we were finished they said hold on, it's not the right ballot," said one voter.

"Because this is the first year after reapportionment precinct lines have changed a polling place may not service the same geographical boundary so to go off historical data it may or may not match up," said Nago.

The office is now re-calculating the numbers and reviewing the process after an election that ended on a sour note.

"Something is wrong.  Something is wrong with the planning, and the organizing," Kunia voter Rochelle DeCosta.

Nago said this election season, each and every precinct had a ballot type coded specifically for that location, so unlike elections in the past, they couldn't pull from one location to use it elsewhere.

As for the neighbor islands, including the Big Island, he said things went smoothly.

He believes it's because there are fewer and more centralized polling places, so they could quickly resolve any problems. 

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