By CHRISTOPHER WEBER
HONOLULU — 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. Most polling stations had only one electronic voting machine on site.
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 electronically, he said. Abercrombie promised a review of voting procedures.
“The legislature has to take up the question seriously about how can we get ahold of the situation and see that it doesn’t happen again,” he said.
Plenty of ballots were available, but workers failed to deliver them “in a timely manner,” said Hawaii Chief Election Officer Scott Nago.
“We had them printed. We sent out reserves as soon as we knew about it,” Nago told KHON-TV. “It’s hard to predict turnout — we just got caught.”
He said his staff would meet to see what they can do differently to avoid similar problems in the future. The state hasn’t run out of ballots before, at least not on this scale, he said.
Voters at seven Oahu polling places were still in lines at electronic voting machines several hours after polls closed.
First results from races across the state trickled in about two hours later than scheduled.
Voting on the Big Island went smoothly, said state officials who were watching for problems. Nago announced last month that the state was rescinding the Hawaii County’s responsibility for the general election after glitches in the primary vote.
County Clerk Jamae Kawauchi was 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 13 out of 40 locations opened at least 30 minutes late.
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 issues, including equipment malfunctions and supplies being delivered late to polling places.