(ABOVE) Fallen trees like this one after Iselle are preventing folks from coming and going as they normally would in Puna. On Monday, the State of Hawaii again changed the election process for Puna.
PUNA, Hawaii – A third change in the election process for two Puna precincts has the Hawaii County Democrats Puna District Chairperson upset.
On Monday, the State Office of Elections announced that walk-in voting will be held on Friday, August 15th at Keonepoko Elementary School for the two polling places whose election was postponed due to Hurricane Iselle.
This is after it was declared the two polling places would be voting by absentee ballot over a 21 day period.
The state says “only voters who are assigned to Hawaiian Paradise Community Center (04-01) and Keoneopoko Elementary School (04-02), who did not previously vote by absentee mail ballot or at an early vote site will be allowed to vote.” Polling place hours are 7 a.m.-6 p.m. Voters in line at 6:00 p.m. will be allowed to vote.
Democrat Phil Matlage, the District 4 Chair, issued a scathing letter of opinion.
This repeated change in the date, location and method of the election; 3 times in 3 days, twice within hours of each other, is a violation of the election laws, notification by mail and or personal delivery is required to change the place and date of the election. Several political offices are currently to be decided by our votes; Federal US Senate, State House of Representatives, and a County Council seat.
Are we to standby and say nothing when the basic civil rights of our neighbors are being violated, this will probably end up in US Federal Courts as a Civil Rights case delaying the final election results for weeks or months, if not longer.
To start with, most of the people in Precincts 1&2 do not currently have internet, TV, Cable, phones, or home delivery of mail, and electricity is still widely out. Is Scott Ngo, head of the Hawaii Elections Office, planning on sending smoke signals in the next 3 days to get the word out of when and where the election will be held, or has he been drinking “Florida style elections Kool-Aid”. You have to notify folks when and where to vote, this is not a Banana Republic, or is it?
The voters have been advised by notices posted by the elections officials at the 2 closed polling places they would be sent a mail-in ballot, and the same was noted in the Hawaii Tribune newspaper. The written notices posted on the polling place doors were even shown as part of a KHON2 news story in today’s evening news broadcast.
Additionally I have not been notified by the office of elections that the Hawaii Board of Registration will reconvene for this “walk-in election”, which is required to address any challenges to the ability of any voter to cast a ballot. I have called Mr. Ngo’s office to remind them of their obligation and my duty, as the chairman of the Hawaii Island Board of Registration.
Why doesn’t the office of elections just send the ballot boxes pre-filled and do away with the pretense of a legal and fair election. I am outraged that we are to be denied our right to vote which Mr. Ngo has sworn an oath to protect and defend enforcing the laws of the land.Phil Matlage letter to Hawaii County Democrats Chair David Tarnas
Matlage, it is noted, is also the Chair of the Hawaii Island Board of Registration with the State Department of Elections. He was appointed by the Governor and confirmed by the State Senate in 2012.
Puna’s postponed election is of national importance. Along with the County Council and State House races that hang in the balance, the vote will likely decide the too-close-to-call U.S. Senate primary between Brian Schatz and Colleen Hanabusa. There is a roughly 1,500 vote margin between Schatz – who is in the lead – and Hanabusa. There are over 8,000 registered voters in the affected Puna precincts.