Election results delayed by ballot shortages


By CHRISTOPHER WEBER

Associated Press

HONOLULU (AP) — Several polling places on Oahu ran out of paper ballots Tuesday, causing long lines at electronic voting machines and forcing many people to walk away in frustration without casting a vote.

At least 19 locations in Mililani, Waianae, Kailua, Waimanalo and elsewhere ran short of paper ballots before the close of polls, state elections officials said.

Voters already in line by 6 p.m. were told they could still cast an electronic ballot, but dozens decided not to wait. Additional paper ballots were rushed to the voting stations but did not arrive in time.

Gov. Neil Abercrombie declined to keep the polls open late, as he did when widespread problems occurred in Hawaii County during primary voting in August.

“I don’t think that anything has reached the level of extending the polls,” the governor told KHON-TV.

Abercrombie said there was no reason every voting station shouldn’t have enough ballots for everyone. And even without paper ballots, everybody who showed up should have been able to vote, he said. Abercrombie promised a review of voting procedures.

“The legislature has to take up the question seriously about how can we get a hold of the situation and see that it doesn’t happen again,” he said.

Voting on the Big Island went smoothly, said state officials who were watching for problems. Hawaii Chief Election Officer Scott Nago announced last month that the state was rescinding the county’s responsibility for the general election after glitches in the primary vote. State officials operated a control and counting center in a state office building in Hilo.

County Clerk Jamae Kawauchi is still responsible for voter registration and absentee ballots.

During the primary, Abercrombie ordered polls on the Big Island to stay open 90 minutes later than originally planned after several locations opened late.

A state review one week after the primary said 13 out of 40 Big Island polling places opened late, most at least 30 minutes behind schedule and two at least one hour tardy.

The delays didn’t change the election results but shook public confidence in the system, state officials said.

Kawauchi was criticized for her handling of the primary elections. She apologized but said some of the problems weren’t her responsibility.

The primary day problems included unforeseen technical and operational problems, including equipment malfunctions and supplies being delivered late to polling places. The issues surfaced Aug. 11 after weeks of smaller problems leading up to the election.

 

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