Police Open Investigation Into Possible 2010 Voter FraudSeptember 11, 2012, 6:04 PM HST (Updated September 11, 2012, 6:09 PM)
Hawaii County police say they have launched an investigation into an allegation of voter fraud on the Big Island.
In a brief statement sent out at 4:26 p.m. today, Capt. Mitchell Kanehailua of the Criminal Investigation Division said the investigation is based on information provided by the Hawaii County Office of Elections involving elections conducted in 2010.
According to Kanehailua’s statement, voter fraud is a class “C” felony. Such crimes carry a maximum sentence of up to five years in prison and a fine of up to $10,000.
County Clerk Jamae Kawauchi, who oversees the county’s Election Division, could not be reached for comment on whether the police investigation is related to a three-day “audit” she conducted of Big Island voter rolls that ended July 23.
She issued a statement shortly after 5 p.m. today saying her office would have no comment on the police investigation. The statement referred questions about it to Kanehailua.
However, Kanehailua’s earlier statement said “no other details will be released” because the investigation into the matter is ongoing.
The July audit became one of several areas of contention between Kawauchi and state elections officials, who said they were not informed of the audit until it was nearly complete.
At a press conference a week after the audit, Kawauchi said her review had found that between 50 and 60 people were registered to vote more than once in the 2010 election, and five people had voted twice.
At that time she said the problems did not appear to be “systemic” and would not have an impact on the primary election held on Aug. 11.
Kawauchi said some of the duplicate registrations cold be attributed to clerical errors or slight differences in names such as a missing “Jr.” or “Sr.” suffix.
She told reporters that none of the double voting occurred in the same precinct, and her office would follow up on the audit and attempt to contact those voters.
Kawauchi has since met on several occasions with the state attorney general’s office but has declined to elaborate on the purpose or result of those meetings.