Nearly 2 dozen Oahu poll sites ran out of ballots

Abercrombie: No responsible executive overseeing election

 UPDATED 11:06 AM HST Nov 07, 2012
HONOLULU -

A major problem in the General Election was the shortage of ballots at some precincts on Oahu.

Nearly two dozen polling places ran out of paper ballots before the 6 p.m. voting deadline.

Voters at Ala Wai Elementary near Waikiki and at Wilson Elementary in Kahala say they waited up to nearly an hour and a half to cast their vote after their precinct ran out of ballots.

That problem was only made worse at Hokulani Elementary in Manoa where a mix-up had voters voting for the wrong district.

"I said, 'She's in my district.  She's got signs up, she came to my door.  I know she's in my district.  I want to vote for her,'" said Beth Ruze.  "And then they said, 'OK everybody hold on.  We got the wrong ballots.'"

"It's been a mess.  We had lots of people walk off.  A lot of people very upset about this," said Michael Kratzke, a voter assisting officer.  "We've been trying to gather names, serial numbers on some of the ballots but, unfortunately, they don't match up with the actual ballot that was cast, which is causing a problem of how do these ballots get counted?"

Some voters at the Hokulani Elementary precinct cast ballots in a foreign language because it was the only ballot left hat had the correct district.

Election officials say they underestimated how many people would turn out to vote in the General Election.  Gov. Neil Abercrombie says problems in the Primary Election and during the General Election should spur some change in state law.

"The Executive Branch is no longer in charge of the voting procedures now.  I think this is something that has to be examined as to what happened and why," said Abercrombie.  "Honestly, the legislature has to take a look at whether or not we want to continue to have this kind of an operation where it's ostensibly independent, but by the same token that means that there's no responsible executive authority to oversee it."

Each county clerk oversees their own election.  However, in an historic move, the state took over Election Day operations on the Big Island after officials say communication problems from the Primary Election had not been resolved.

In all, more than 436,000 voters, or 61.9 percent of registered voters, voted in the General Election compared to the 42.3 percent that participated in the Primary Election and 66 percent that voted in the 2008 election.

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