Kawauchi Issues Statement, Says ‘Public is the Priority’August 29, 2012, 6:10 PM HST (Updated August 29, 2012, 6:12 PM)
In what has become a rare instance of interaction with Big Island media, County Clerk Jamae Kawauchi issued a press release late this afternoon on several subjects, including precinct record books and her lack of attendance at a meeting Monday on Oahu.
The statement said that Kawauchi met on Friday with staff of the office of the state attorney general to discuss possession of the precinct record books from the Aug. 11 primary election. It said that following that meeting, Kawauchi spoke by telephone with Chief Elections Officer Scott Nago and the two agreed that the state office would keep the original books and would provide the Hawai`i County Elections Division with photocopies.
“The Hawai`i County clerk is in the process of examining the photocopies,” Kawauchi’s statement said.
The precinct books had been taken by Nago three days after the election because, Nago said, Kawauchi was unable to determine how many precincts were affected by delays in opening. Kawauchi told the County Council that the books were taken without her permission, although she later acknowledged that the books belong to the state.
Her statement also referred to Monday’s debriefing held by state election officials and HART Intercivic, the company that provides the state’s voting machines. It said that she did not attend the meeting because she had already met with a company official on the Big Island, as County Council Chairman Dominic Yagong told Big Island Now on Tuesday.
Kawauchi’s release also said that she has been receiving inquiries about the “Elections Program Administrator” and her work status.
“As stated previously, the Office of the County Clerk does not provide comment concerning personnel matters. There is no new information to report concerning this matter,” the statement said.
It was not clear whether Kawauchi was referring to Pat Nakamoto, the longtime administrator who was fired by Kawauchi in January and then placed on paid leave when she returned to her job in July, or Arlene Boteilho, the interim elections administrator who reportedly went out on sick leave just prior to the primary election.
The statement concluded with a message to the public:
“Note, the Hawai`i county clerk very much wants the public to know as stated previously and continuously, throughout this election, the public is the priority and every vote counts. In furtherance of this message, the office of the county clerk, Elections Division, is committed to working in partnership with the chief elections officer and the state Office of Elections and the public to ensure a secure, open and honest election on November 6, 2012.”
The latter statement is apparently a reference to an exchange of letters last week between Nago and Kawauchi about statewide workshops for election officials.
By the time Big Island Now received the press release the clerk’s office was closed for the day, and Kawauchi could not be reached for clarification and comment.