East Hawaii News

Convoluted Election Measure Approved by Council

September 6, 2012, 7:16 PM HST
* Updated September 6, 7:32 PM
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The County Council today approved legislation that would ultimately allow state officials to determine whether each county is prepared for the election process.

However, there are many paths the resolution proposed by Kona Councilman Angel Pilago must take before the desired action could take place.

Unlike ordinances which become law, resolutions are by nature non-binding. And this one requests that the Hawaii State Association of Counties take up the matter by including the proposal in its package of suggested legislation for next year’s session of the state Legislature.

The resolution’s title says it all:

“A resolution requesting that the Hawaii State Association of Counties include in its 2013 legislative package a proposal urging the state of Hawaii chief election officer and elections commission to establish a mechanism to monitor the counties’ readiness to conduct an election and intervene if necessary.”

County attorney Kathy Garson noted that state law would have to be changed to fulfill the measure’s intent.

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The state and county already share various aspects of the election process, County Clerk Jamae Kawauchi noted during the meeting as she shared results of research requested by Councilwoman Brenda Ford.

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According to Section 11-184 of Hawaii Revised Statutes, the state is responsible for, among other things, the training of precinct officials and providing ballot containers. The law says the county is responsible for such things as maintaining lists of voters, hiring of temporary election workers and maintenance and storage of voting machines.

Other costs are shared by the county and state, the law says.

Bob Shioji, a former deputy county clerk, testifies in favor of the resolution. Photo by Dave Smith.

Several people testifying, including former deputy county clerk Bob Shioji, agreed with the resolution’s intent.

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“It gives the counties some help from the state that it hasn’t had before,” Shioji said.

Pilago’s resolution was driven by problems encountered during the Aug. 11 primary election on the Big Island, including the late opening of nearly a third of the county’s 40 voting precincts. “This event has damaged the public’s confidence in the electoral process,” the resolution said.

The council eventually approved the resolution 9-0, although Pilago acknowledged that it is likely coming too late to have any effect on the Nov. 6 general election.

 

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