Big Island Election Clerk Jamae Kawauchi Rips Into Head of State Elections

Big island election clerk Jamae Kawauchi rips into head of state elections.

Jamae Kawauchi tells her side of the story.

Video from Hawaii Reporter:

[youtube=http://youtu.be/aGYvBhPEe5E]

 

Hawaii County Elections: November 1st Update and Information

VOTER REGISTRATION

104,323 Hawaii County residents are registered to vote in the 2012 General Election. This is the official voter registration count for the 2012 General Election and is not subject to change for this election.

ABSENTEE MAIL BALLOTS

As of November 1st, Hawaii County has received 18,221 voted absentee mail ballots.  Voters are reminded that the deadline to submit an absentee mail ballot for the General Election is 6:00 p.m. on November 6, 2012.  Voters are further reminded that absentee mail ballots may be submitted for the General Election by: (1) mailing their ballot to the Hawaii County Elections Division, (2) hand delivering their ballot to the Hawaii County Elections Division office in Hilo, (3) hand delivering their ballot to any absentee/early walk-in voting location in Hilo, Waimea and in Kona, (4) hand delivering their ballot to any precinct on election day, November 6, 2012, no later than 6:00 p.m.

ABSENTEE/EARLY WALK-IN VOTING

On October 23rd, Hawaii County opened absentee/early walk-in voting precincts in Hilo, Waimea and in Kona.  Absentee/early walk-in voting is open to all registered voters at any early walk-in voting precinct on the island, regardless of district or residency assignment.  Absentee/early walk-in voting will continue until November 3, 2012.

As of November 1st, 7,162 Hawaii County voters have voted absentee/early walk-in voting in Hawaii County.

For more information please contact Lehua Iopa, Acting Elections Program Administrator, Hawaii County Elections Division (808) 961-8277 or by electronic mail to eiopa@co.hawaii.hi.us.

Big Island Chronicle’s Complaint Against County Clerk to Be Held Tomorrow

According to the Honolulu Civil Beat, Big Island Blogger and Journalist, Tiffany Edwards Hunt of The Big Island Chronicle, will be going before the ethics board tomorrow to have her complaint against the Hawaii County Elections Office and in particular Jamae Kawauchi heard by the ethics board.

Council Chairman Dominic Yagong testifies while Edwards-Hunt tends to her child and pecks away on her phone during a recent hearing.

Big Island Video News posted this video that gives a pretty good vibe to what’s going on in the case:

[youtube=http://youtu.be/e3C_LdJ0ANc]

The Civil Beat reports:

“The Hawaii County Ethics Board on Wednesday is scheduled to hear a complaint against Jamae Kawauchi, the Big Island’s embattled clerk, alleging she violated county code in her handling of the island’s elections.

The complaint is another in a series of varied — and mostly unsuccessful — attempts to hold Kawauchi accountable for the ongoing elections saga that many say have jeopardized the democratic process on the Big Island.

But what sets this complaint apart is the person behind it: Big Island reporter Tiffany Edwards Hunt. Journalists don’t usually file complaints about the people they cover.

Kawauchi has stirred quite a fuss among members of the media statewide, many of whom say she’s been less than forthcoming with them about why elections operations went so awry and what she was doing to remedy the problems. Patchy communication has become a major theme in recent conversations about the county clerk. Indeed, stories about the county clerk and the Big Island’s botched primary usually include a line saying she didn’t respond.

In fact, Kawauchi did not return calls from Civil Beat seeking comment for this story…”

You can read the extensive write up done by the Civil Beat here: Big Island Reporter Files Ethics Complaint Against Hawaii County Clerk.

Elections Clerk Requests Meeting With State Officials Regarding Rescission of Election Duties

By letter, dated October 2, 2012, the Hawaii County Clerk received notification of the State Office of Elections rescission of their delegation of authority regarding State elections.

Jamae Kawauchi stated, “On October 2, 2012, and immediately following the notification of the State Office of Elections rescission of their delegation of authority regarding State elections, I requested a meeting be held on October 4, 2012, in Honolulu, Hawaii, at the offices of the State Attorney General, to further discuss the State Office of Elections rescission. This meeting will be attended by the Chief Elections Officer of the State of Hawaii, attorneys from the State Attorney General’s office, the Hawaii County Clerk, and Hawaii County Deputy Corporation Counsel. More information will be made available, as appropriate, following this meeting.”

Ms. Kawauchi also stated, “The next State Office of Elections workshop is scheduled for October 4, 2012 – Oahu. The Hawaii County elections division will be attending the workshop tomorrow.”

Elections Official Kawauchi Responds to Missed Election Workshop

The Office of the Hawaii County Clerk has received media inquiries concerning the elections workshops organized by the State Office of Elections. The State Office of Elections workshop schedule is as follows: (1) September 10, 2012 – Kauai; (2) September 27, 2012 – Maui; and (3) October 4, 2012 – Oahu. The media has questions concerning the reason why the Hawaii County Clerk did not attend the September 10, 2012 training on Kauai.

Jamae Kawauchi stated, “I did not attend the September 10, 2012 workshop on Kauai because I had already been scheduled to meet with Hawaii Island precinct officials on September 10, 2012 to discuss the primary election, issues and concerns presented by the primary election, and preparation and planning for the November 6, 2012 general election. The State Office of Elections was notified of the scheduling conflict and that the Deputy County Clerk and the elections division would be attending the workshop on Kauai in my place. I also let them know that I would be attending the trainings to be held on Maui and on Oahu.”

Jamae Kawauchi further stated, “We are grateful for the support that the State Office of Elections and the counties have extended to Hawaii County. I will continue to ask for their support to help me and the elections division staff ensure that Hawaii County has a fair and well-run election.”

“In the meetings with Hawaii County precinct officials, we are connecting with them, and I am thankful for the opportunity to get to know these dedicated, earnest and community-service minded citizens. I am impressed with their commitment to give more than 100% effort in their positions as precinct officials and I look forward to continuing to work with the State Office of Elections, the counties, the precinct officials and the public to ensure a fair and well-run general election.”

Jamae Kawauchi Responds to the Cancellation of Today’s Special Council Meeting

Today, the Office of the Hawaii County Clerk received media inquiries concerning the cancellation of the today’s special meeting of the Hawaii County Council.

Ms. Kawauchi stated, “The deadline for filing responsive pleadings in the lawsuits has been extended to October 26, 2012. The Hawaii County Council cancelled the special meeting today to allow additional time to explore issues regarding the representation of all named defendants. The Hawaii County Council will be discussing these matters at the October 3, 2012 Hawaii County Council meeting.”

Jamae Kawauchi

Hawaii State Office of Elections Report Regarding the Implementation of the 2012 Primary Election by the Clerk of the County of Hawaii

This is the official Hawaii State Office of Elections Report Regarding the Implementation of the 2012 Primary Election by the Clerk of the County of Hawaii, Jamae Kawauchi:


OFFICE OF ELECTIONS REPORT REGARDING THE IMPLEMENTATION OF THE 2012 PRIMARY ELECTION BY THE CLERK OF THE COUNTY OF HAWAII

The Office of Elections has received numerous requests to investigate what transpired during the 2012 Primary Election in the County of Hawaii from public officials, candidates, and members of the public. In order to best address those requests, we believed it appropriate to issue the following report for public dissemination.

In order to understand what occurred in the County of Hawaii, it necessary to first reiterate, as we have told people in the past, the different roles and responsibilities of the State and the counties when it comes to elections.

As provided for in the Hawaii State Constitution, my duties include the supervision of state elections. Article IV, Section 3. In regards to county elections those are within the purview of each county. As provided for in the County of Hawaii’s charter, “[t]he council shall appoint the county clerk” and the county clerk shall “[c]onduct all elections held within the county.” Section 3-6(b).

The County of Hawaii, similar to the other counties, provides in its charter that its elections will be held in conjunction with the Primary and General Election. Section 13- 27. As such, the Office of Elections attempts to work in coordination with the county clerks in running our combined elections, while recognizing the autonomy of each county. Article VIII, Section 2 (Local Self-Government; Charter).

In county only elections, the county is responsible for all aspects of an election ranging from voter registration, polling places, absentee voting, operation of the voting system, counting of the ballots and reporting of the results. Similarly in state elections, the State is responsible for all aspects of the elections. HRS §§ 11-182 and 11-183.

In combined state/county elections, the counties are responsible for voter registration and absentee voting. HRS §§ 11-11 and 15-4. Those responsibilities are always the statutory province of the counties. Additionally, the counties are responsible for storage of election materials. The State in combined elections is responsible for operating election day polling places and in operating the voting system including the counting of ballots and reporting of results. There are various other subsidiary responsibilities that the counties and the State split in an equitable manner. HRS § 11- 184.

Having said that, given that the Office of Elections is based on Oahu, the State is authorized under HRS § 11-2 to “delegate responsibilities in state elections within a county to the clerk of that county.” In recognition of the fact that state elections includes not only state contests but county contests, the State and counties split the costs of any overtime in regards to poll worker recruitment and for county election officials who work on election day and at other times, such as the logic and accuracy testing of the voting system. This cooperative relationship between the counties and the State has always


worked to the benefit of the voters. It is our assumption that the county clerks factor this into justifying their personnel descriptions for their civil service positions, staffing allocations, and in requesting budget appropriations from their county councils for elections.

The County of Hawaii has never refused this delegation of responsibility or the compensation from the State and it has always said it was up to the task, even when it terminated its civil service election administrator in an election year. Instead, at all times, the County Clerk has contended that she was up to the task and that there were no problems. The State in reviewing the matter has spoken to the County Clerk several times and corresponded with her about the county’s readiness for the elections. At all times, the County Clerk had said she was prepared.

The Hawaii State Elections Commission dedicated a portion of its May 30, 2012 meeting to discuss with the county clerk whether she was prepared for the 2012 elections, given correspondence it had received from Councilmember Dennis Onishi. The County Clerk insisted that everything was under control. Attached is a copy of the draft minutes from that meeting.

During the meeting, the Elections Commission sought for the County Council to provide additional assurances that the elections would be successful in the County of Hawaii.

Commissioner Orikasa asked Councilman Onishi how the Clerk is selected and Onishi responded that Clerk is appointed by the Council Chair. Commissioner Orikasa then asked what opportunities are available for the Council to get involved with getting assurances that the elections will be successful.
Councilman Onishi responded that he could make a request to the Council Chair that the elections topic be placed on the agenda for the next Council meeting. He also explained that since the election time frame is so short, he wrote to the OE and the Elections Commission to see if he could get the status on the Hawaii County elections.
Commissioner Orikasa then suggested that Councilman Onishi go ahead and try to have the elections topic placed on the agenda. Onishi said that he would ask the Chair to place the topic on the next meetings agenda. Councilman Onishi also stated that his intent for going to the OE and the Elections Commission was to protect the people of Hawaii County and make sure that they have a fair and open election.
***
Chair Marston expressed to Councilman Onishi that that he hopes he will report back to the Council the concerns that the Commission has
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regarding elections. He also wanted to comment that the elections are a cooperative effort that involves all parties and he also encourages County Clerk Kawauchi to get whatever resources necessary to succeed in this election. Councilman Onishi suggested that if available, the Commissioners could attend the next Council meeting. Commissioners Okazaki and Masunaga said that they would be willing to attend the meeting if elections were placed on the agenda. Councilman Onishi also expressed that he is appreciative that this issue was placed on this Commission meeting agenda for discussion.
Elections Commission Meeting Minutes (Draft) at pages 7 and 8.

Ultimately, it is our understanding that the County Council never elected to put the issue on their agenda. As such, we had to continue to legally rely on the representations of its county clerk who by charter “[c]onduct all elections held within the county.” Section 3-6(b). In other words, it is our understanding that no one other than the County Clerk, or perhaps the County Council that appoints her, has legal authority to speak on behalf of the County of Hawaii in regards to election matters.

As we got closer to the Primary Election, the Clerk’s issue regarding communicating in a timely and detailed manner to the Office of Elections and the other county clerks reached a critical point when the County Clerk failed to communicate the circumstances surrounding her closure of her Hilo office on July 23, 2012. We noted to her, in part the following,

We are fielding calls as to what is going in your county, as well as, when your absentee ballots are going to be mailed out. Your closure on July 23, 2012, and your failure to thoroughly communicate to the rest of the election community and the media as to the reasons for the closure, has unnecessarily lead to significant speculation in the public about the integrity of our elections only a few weeks before the August 11, 2012, Primary Election. This is simply unacceptable on the part of a fellow election administrator. The public relies on us to be assured that their elections are safe and secure.
Excerpt of Letter to County Clerk (July 25, 2012).

Ultimately, the County Clerk explained that her “audit” had found some duplicate voter registrations and that possibly a handful of voters may have voted twice. The County Clerk’s lack of familiarity with voter registration and absentee voting records, which are the jurisdiction of the county clerks, apparently lead to her inability to definitively say what she had found.

In debriefing with her and the other county clerks on July 31, 2012, it was our hope that the Clerk of the County of Hawaii had come to the realization that

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she needed to communicate with the Office of Elections and the other county clerks, and that she would benefit from the institutional knowledge and election administration experience of these election administrators.

As we approached the Primary Election, on August 11, 2012, despite the representations by the County Clerk that everything was fine, I felt it important to send one of my veteran section heads to help trouble shoot any problems that might occur, as we had a new counting center manager. Additionally, I requested the Department of the Attorney General to assign a deputy attorney general to the Board of Registration that would be based in the County of Hawaii for the election.

What my staff witnessed was poor planning, implementation, and leadership by the County Clerk. Despite this, the hard working staff and volunteers did their best under the circumstances and were able to get through the election. Essentially, the County Clerk on election day is supposed to be like a field general with a plan of attack, who acts confidently, and has the support of his or her troops. The County Clerk was in no way, shape, or form that type of leader.

For example, the issue regarding the late opening of polls. While irregularities may happen on election day, as we are dealing with hundreds of stipended volunteers, and many moving parts, the County Clerk lacked the ability to definitively articulate the nature of the problem to the Office of Elections or the public. This resulted in the need for the Governor to conduct triage, in the form of an emergency proclamation, extending polling place hours, based on the limited information that she provided the Attorney General.

Specifically, the County Clerk at no specific time had a handle on how many polling places out of the forty in the county opened late. The election proclamation issued by the Governor refers to over half of the polling places in the County of Hawaii had not opened on time. The County Clerk initially reported three precincts had opened late, later on we were told by the Attorney General’s Office that they had been told twenty five by the County Clerk, and then later in the day we were told by the County Clerk that there were at least eleven but that she was still looking into it.

The public’s confidence in our elections was rocked by this election proclamation, which normally is only issued when a natural disaster or emergency occurs. The Governor did not lightly issue this proclamation and under the circumstances, he arguably had no other choice than to protect the rights of the voters, if the County Clerk’s general representations to Attorney General were correct.

Following the election, we waited for the County Clerk to follow up on her representation that she would follow up and get a more definite answer as to

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what the scope of the problem was. We heard nothing on Sunday or Monday from her regarding any further details. A statewide meeting, in Hilo, was scheduled for August 14, 2012 (Tuesday) with all the county clerks to debrief about the Primary Election.

During the meeting, the County Clerk still could not answer the question of how many polls had opened late. Additionally, she had no answers to why there had been problems with delivering supplies in West Hawaii to the polling places on election day. Her answers were essentially that she was still looking into it. In the end, we did not get the responses we expected from a county clerk, who had been entrusted with elections within her county.

Having said that, given that the public is asking and the fact that we needed to know what the scope of the opening of polls problem was, we immediately conducted our own investigation. Specifically, we took custody of the record books for all forty polling places in the County of Hawaii. We also, immediately began calling every precinct chairperson in the County of Hawaii to get answers, with calls being made that evening and the following morning.

The result of that investigation, which was completed the following morning, after reviewing the records books and the notes from the telephone calls, was that a total of thirteen polling places out of forty polling places opened late. However, of those thirteen polling places, four opened between 7:01 a.m. and 7:03 a.m., five opened no later 7:30 a.m., two opened no later than 8:00 a.m., and the final two opened at 8:40 a.m. A copy of the spreadsheet showing the exact opening times for each polling place is attached.

Our review of what transpired in the County of Hawaii focused on two things. First, was the conduct of the 2012 Primary Election defensible under the law? Second, did the conduct of the County Clerk unnecessarily undermine the public’s confidence in our electoral system?

In regards to the first question, our initial review of the matter indicates that the irregularities complained of, while unfortunate, do not rise to the level of changing the election results. Specifically, irregularities must involve sufficient evidence to demonstrate that the irregularities complained of could have caused a difference in the election results. Sufficient evidence requires something more than a “mere fishing expedition undertaken in the hope that in an examination of all the ballots enough might be discovered to change the result.” Brown v. Iaukea, 18 Haw. 131, 133 (1906). Additionally, any challenger would need to show “actual information of mistakes or errors sufficient to change the result.” Funakoshi, 65 Haw. at 316-17 (citing Iaukea, 18 Haw. at 133). Further, a challenge cannot be based on “mere belief or indefinite information.” Akaka, 84 Hawai`i at 388 (citing Kulike v. Fern, 19 Haw. 278, 283 (1909)).

Ultimately, the Hawaii Supreme Court has determined that “[i]n the absence of facts showing that irregularities exceed the reported margin between the candidates,

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the complaint is legally insufficient because, even if its truth were assumed, the result of the election would not be affected.” Akaka, 84 Hawai`i at 388 (internal citations omitted). In the present case, the irregularities complained of do not appear to be legally sufficient to change the election results.

As for the question of whether the conduct of the County Clerk unnecessarily undermined the public’s confidence in our electoral system, the answer is unfortunately yes, for the reasons previously noted. This cannot be allowed to happen again. The County Clerk must rededicate herself to mastering election administration or at the very minimum to surround herself with individuals with expertise in election administration. Additionally, the County Clerk must work on learning to communicate effectively and in a timely manner to other members of the election community and to the public as a whole. We look forward to continuing to work with the Office of the County Clerk, so as to learn from the events of the Primary Election, and to ensure a well administered General Election.

The OFFICIAL TIMES OF THE OPENING OF THE PRECINCTS ON THE BIG ISLAND:


 


County of Hawaii Election Officials to Hold Press Briefing Tomorrow

I think many folks are very interested in the elections that are going on and with all the turmoil that has been happening of late… it will be interesting to see what the Hawaii County Office of Elections will have to say with only four days left until the primaries on August 11th.

Big Island Video News for Wednesday, August 1st, 2012

Big Island Video News for Wednesday, August 1, 2012:

In this episode: Hawaii County Clerk Jamae Kawauchi talks to media on Oahu about the recent elections snafu, police still investigating Shipman Industrial Park fire, and searching for an escaped inmate.

[youtube=http://youtu.be/uT4hQ39ESt4]

Hawaii County Elections Official Statement About Press Briefing Tomorrow

We all know that the Hawaii County Elections Office has been having a lot said about them.

The latest in this stunning report by KHON2 where they state:

The state Attorney General’s office is reviewing allegations of duplicate voting on the Big Island.

Hawaii County Clerk Jamae Kawauchi said she uncovered repeat voting from the 2010 primary and general elections during an audit of voter rolls…

More here: Attorney General Looking Into Big Island Vote Irregularities

Normally I wouldn’t announce a “Press Briefing” that was sent to media members… however, this one said it was for “Immediate Release” which authorizes me to release it to the general public.

The Office of the County Clerk announces today that there will be a Press Briefing held on Wednesday, August 1, 2012, at 12:30 p.m. in the Puna Conference Room in Hilo located at 25 Aupuni Street. Hawai‘i County Clerk Jamae K. K. Kawauchi will address the Press and Media regarding the recent review of the Hawai‘i County voter registry.