HILO — Several Hawaii County voters voted twice in the 2010 elections and some people were registered more than once in the county Elections Office database, Hawaii County Clerk Jamae Kawauchi revealed Tuesday.
Kawauchi ripped off the veil of secrecy surrounding her visits last month with federal investigators and the state Attorney General’s Office in an effort to end speculation in some media outlets and to help address what might have become a crisis of confidence among Hawaii County voters, several of whom contacted West Hawaii Today about what they thought were problems with their yellow postcards depicting polling places and their absentee ballots. Most of those concerns turned out to be unfounded.
The County Clerk plans a news conference at 12:30 p.m. today in the Puna room of the county building in Hilo to further lay out the problems she found and how her office is addressing them. The problems she revealed predate her tenure as county clerk. Kawauchi took over in 2011.
Kawauchi had closed the Elections Office on July 23 to complete a review of the voter registration database and then sought assistance from the Attorney General’s Office. She then declined to discuss her concerns on the record.
“I think people had all the right to be alarmed simply because they did not have all the information,” said County Council Chairman Dominic Yagong, who controls the council majority that hires the county clerk. “We had some long discussions about that. It was very difficult for her, because she wanted to do her due diligence.”
Yagong said that now that the information about Kawauchi’s concerns are becoming public, he’s hoping the public’s fears will be put to rest.
“All Jamae was trying to do was be thorough,” Yagong said. “When everything does come out, people will understand why she did what she did.”
Kawauchi, flying back from Honolulu, could not be reached for comment Tuesday evening. But she had outlined her concerns earlier to West Hawaii Today about the 2010 elections, asking that it not be reported until she got the OK from the Attorney General’s Office. That apparently came late Tuesday.
“Based upon my review of the County of Hawaii voter registry, I found some things I thought should be investigated further, so I contacted the state Office of Elections,” Kawauchi said during a 2 1/2-hour interview Friday. “I also met with the state Attorney General’s Office.”
The voter registration list is not compiled from scratch each election; rather it is added to and purged as people join the rolls, die, move away or commit felonies. With 101,728 registered voters, a relatively high percentage of Hawaii County’s voting age population is on it — some 71.2 percent of the 142,799 people 18 years and older reported in the 2010 census.