Governor urges legislative review of elections office
Gov. Linda Lingle renewed calls yesterday for lawmakers to hold hearings into the performance of the state Office of Elections.
"It is an issue for the Legislature to take up," Lingle said yesterday at a news conference. "I continue to believe there can be improvements.
"I know most people in the office work hard and try to do a good job. I think the leadership is lackluster and not really enthusiastic about improvement."
The Elections Office faced similar criticism from Lingle after the Sept. 23 primary, when the third printout was not available until well after 1 a.m. Results were a bit faster in coming on Tuesday, although it still took until about 12:30 a.m. Wednesday before the third printout from all counties was released.
A final printout was posted by 6 p.m. Wednesday.
Election officials declined comment on Lingle's criticism, noting that things went well for an election that involved 348,000 voters, 353 polling places and about 3,500 poll workers.
"Things went very well," said Elections Office spokesman Rex Quidilla. "We experienced the normal start-up issues that are a part of every election, but the poll workers and staff worked diligently to make sure voters had the opportunity to vote."
Glitches included two polling places that ran out of paper ballots and six that opened late, but Quidilla said there were no reports of any voting abnormalities or irregularities.
"By and large, the various county and state staff volunteers provided excellent service to the people of the state of Hawaii," he said.
Lingle said she would like to see the office develop a two-year work schedule for carrying out the next election, adding that the state office should do more to communicate with the public and "generate enthusiasm" about the process.
"We are a very small state, and there aren't that many votes cast," she said. "With two years, I think we can do a much better job."
House Majority Leader Marcus Oshiro would not say whether the Legislature would hold hearings, but said lawmakers might consider other steps.
"It's always good to evaluate the election process and make improvements where improvements can be made," said Oshiro (D, Wahiawa-Poamoho). "But I would suggest that we may also look at raising the compensation level so we can attract better-trained volunteers."
State Sen. Colleen Hanabusa, Judiciary Committee chairwoman, who previously criticized the elections office headed by Dwayne Yoshina, already has said she would consider a new round of hearings next year. Yoshina is hired by a bipartisan, semiautonomous elections board.