The governor and the Hawaii County Council are under growing pressure to diffuse a rift between state and Hawaii County elections office.
In an emergency meeting called by the council Monday, elections clerk Jamae Kawauchi defended her actions as she outlined what she believed led to delays during the primary.
"What went wrong does not have to do with poor planning or leadership, what went wrong is staff not paying attention," said Kawauchi.
But it didn’t help Kawauchi's case when the number two man in her office disputed part of her characterization of what caused the problems.
"Things were not correct the way I lived it. I had no way of knowing I was to coordinate the buses. That communication never happened," said Steve Kawena Lopez.
One experienced election official offered this snapshot.
"I have worked 12 years here in Hilo, and 15 years on the mainland. I am not exaggerating. This was the most fouled-up elections I had ever been involved with," said Dan Lindsey.
Kawauichi told the council she can't complete her election assessment because the state elections office took voter records that she needs.
“My review has been hampered by the removal of elections records without my permission consent or prior notice," said Kawauchi.
State election official Rex Quidilla said when they were in HIlo on Tuesday, Kawauchi told them she was done with her review of election paperwork, and when they asked if could take the elections records and she told them, yes.
"I don't recall that. I honestly don't recall that," said Kawauchi.
Kawauchi does not think the level of problems are so great that she should step down from her post and the council didn’t take that up Monday, but may later.
"There is a sense of urgency by the council and the public that we want to get to the bottom of this," said Council chairman Dominic Yagong, who appointed Kawauchi.
Councilmember Dennis Onishi, a critic of the clerk, said he is not sure who to believe.
”You got it, and that’s what I am worried about," said Onishi
Another unsuccessful candidate in the primary election came forward with the intent to file another election challenge because of the delayed opening of the polls.
“Some of people denied to vote in Pahoa would have voted, therefore, I lost some of those votes, said Hope Cermilji, who is running as an independent and had hope to advance to the general election.
It remains to be seen if any of the challenges are serious enough to be upheld.
It also is not clear how replacing Kawauchi at this stage of the election, might affect those complaints.
Kawauchi has asked the governor to take over the admininstration of the state elections office because of what she believes are personal attacks against her.
Lt Gov. Brian Shatz said the law does not permit that.
He is offering to help mediate between elections chief Scott nago and Kawauchi in order to ensure a smooth general election.