Nago chosen interim chief election officer


POSTED: Thursday, December 31, 2009

The state Elections Commission chose a veteran election worker as the interim leader of the Office of Elections.

Scott Nago, who has worked on state elections since 1998, replaces Kevin Cronin, who steps down as chief election officer today.

Nago, 35, is currently the counting center section head and oversees the counting of ballots.

Nago takes the job in the midst of a budget shortfall that could affect a special election to replace U.S. Rep. Neil Abercrombie, who announced he is stepping down from office early to run for governor.





        Interim chief election officer

» Previous position: counting center section head, Office of Elections


» Experience: Started with the Office of Elections during the 1998 election


» Education: 1997 graduate of the University of Hawaii at Manoa with a bachelor's in political science; 1992 graduate of Punahou School




The state also still needs to select voting machines for the 2010 elections. But bidding on a new contract is being held up after a court challenge that required the state to establish new voting rules.

Nago declined to speak to the media until after he becomes the interim chief election officer. He is scheduled to brief the state Senate Ways and Means Committee on Monday afternoon on the Office of Elections' readiness to hold a special election.

Cronin praised Nago, noting that he has worked both in the field and the counting center during elections.

“;He has seen it from the ground up,”; Cronin said. “;The people of Hawaii will benefit from his experience.”;

Nago also had the support of all four county clerks, who work with the state in putting on elections.

Nago and Rex Quidilla, the Office of Elections spokesman, were finalists for the chief election officer job in December 2007 when Cronin was hired.

Both were also considered for the interim position.

Cronin said yesterday that the Office of Elections has received permission from the governor to hire 15 workers next month for the Sept. 18 primary and Nov. 2 general election.

The positions include various election specialists, clerks and precinct operations assistants.

During public testimony yesterday, former Elections Commissioner Warner “;Kimo”; Sutton proposed using Internet voting to save money and increase voter participation in a special election.

Deputy Attorney General Russell Suzuki told the commission that state law may need to be changed to allow for Internet voting.


Search committee formed

The Elections Commission yesterday created a three-member search committee to find a permanent chief election officer. Chairman William Marston appointed commissioners Donna Soares, Zale Okazaki and Daniel Young to the committee and tasked them with making a recommendation to the commission on a permanent chief election officer and deciding on the timing of the search.

Commissioners briefly discussed, without deciding, whether the search should be completed before or after the primary and general elections next year and whether to conduct an extensive national search.