Elections Officials Grapple With Uncooperative Hawaii County Clerk

Brian Tseng for Civil Beat

“If you don’t know the game of basketball and you’re going to run a tournament, good luck.”

Those were the words of Hawaii County Council Member Dennis Onishi, who spoke before the state Elections Commission at a routine meeting Wednesday.

He was alluding to primary election day fiascos on the Big Island that culminated in the delayed opening of 13 polling places. State elections officials blamed the mishaps on Hawaii County clerk Jamae Kawauchi. She's been on the job since 2010, but this is her first election.

Everyone at the meeting — commissioners, election officials, other county clerks — agreed that Kawauchi’s inexperience in running elections fueled the problems.

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