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HILO, Hawaii: The embattled Hawaii County Clerk faced the Hawaii County Council on Monday during a special meeting held in Hilo.
The clerk found herself defending her actions during the primary election day debacle that led to delays at polling places and an embarrassing gubernatorial proclamation extending the voting hours on the Big Island.
Before facing the council on Monday, Kawauchi distributed a report of her own.
In it, Kawauchi lashed out at the State Office of Elections, saying that her review of the primary fiasco was “hampered by the removal of election records from the County of Hawai‘i by the State of Hawai‘i Office of Elections without my permission and consent and without prior notice.” … and that “This action on behalf of the State of Hawai‘i Office of Elections is deeply disturbing and does little to provide me with confidence that the State Office of Elections can work in partnership with the County of Hawaii.”
Kawauchi said her concerns about the state elections office date back to September 2011.
In a press conference held after she spoke to the council, Kawauchi said she did not recall the state informing her that they were taking the records for their own investigation.
Kawauchi also provided a direct comparison of the precint latenesses, matching her findings with those of the state office of elections.
Kawauchi points out Scott Nago’s report “shows thirteen (13) precincts with late start times, six (6) late by twenty-nine (29) minutes or more.”
Kawauchi says her research “shows five (5) precincts with late times. Four (4) precincts were late by forty-five (45) minutes or more. One (1) precinct late by fifteen (15) minutes or more. After completing a second round of telephone calls to precinct officials it was determined that two (2) more precincts should be added with late openings. The combined reports show fourteen (14) precincts with late opening times. Six (6) late by twenty-nine (29) minutes or more.”
The clerk was also highly critical of the county’s Deputy County Clerk, Steve Kawena Lopez, seen here sitting with Kawauchi during one of her recent press conferences.
She said Lopez’ actions in deploying materials from the West Hawaii Civic Center created the delays in Waikoloa and Kona.
Kawauchi said in her report: “Not having more experience did not lead the Deputy County Clerk to ensure that no election materials were left behind. What went wrong does not have to do with poor planning, or leadership. What went wrong has to do with staff not paying attention to ensuring that election materials are completely removed from the deployment location. Therefore this is not a matter where more experience would have made a difference. The difference would have occurred if the Deputy County Clerk paid more attention to detail.”
Lopez was on hand to defended himself at Monday’s council meeting.
In the end, the council took no action in regards to the clerk.