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Sunday, August 12, 2012
Hawaii County: "Kona Ballot Cans Arrived Unsealed, Disorganization Looks Purposeful"
By Andrew Walden @ 4:01 PM :: 8430 Views :: Hawaii County , Akaka Bill, Energy, Environment

This report on last night's Primary Election ballot counting is from an election worker inside the Hawaii County Ballot Counting Center in Hilo:

There was a problem with many of the ballot cans with seal numbers not matching the paperwork, especially from the Kona side. Two precincts' cans (two apiece) arrived unsealed. The receiving team members say that that's been a consistent problem over the years, especially with Kona.

Each polling place is given a series of consecutively numbered seals for the voted ballot boxes and the precinct cans, which contain absentee and spoiled ballots, poll open and close reports and more. The working theory is that the precinct workers, especially the Kona ones, just don't pay attention to detail, or that they seal the cans, find something else afterwards that needs to go in, cut the seal, insert the missed item, and seal it with another from the same # series without updating the paperwork. That may be all it is.

A more cynical person would see that there's a ripe opportunity for ballot stuffing. Hopefully, Democratic and Republican Party observers watch the precinct cans go on the buses, but do any observers travel with the buses? If it has become so accepted that seals regularly don't match the paperwork, an unsupervised person could open any of the precinct cans, remove or add whatever they chose, and re-seal it with one of the enclosed seals from the same series, knowing that it'll be assumed to be "sloppy record-keeping". The opportunity appears to be there. Many other states use police escorts for ballot boxes.

A number of the regular volunteers (some have been doing it since the 70s and 80s) remarked that the disorganization looked purposeful. Sabotage, several called it, the old boy network payback against the firings. Two old-timers mentioned that Jamae Kawauchi is a short-timer, as the clerk is appointed by the County Council Chair, lame duck Dominic Yagong, who didn't seem to have too many fans in the Counting Center last night. A case of people not wanting to align too closely with her?

One of the voting machines, with its PCMCIA memory card still inside, from a Keaau precinct, was AWOL for hours after the precinct's other materials arrived at the County Bldg. The Hart Inter-Civic official was frantic, asking anybody and everybody if they'd seen the big, gray plastic box which housed it. It turned out to have been left in the precinct, and was finally retrieved and delivered around 11 or 12 last night.

To reinforce the point about the so-called sloppy record-keeping, the forms which accompany each precinct's ballots, machines, memory cards, etc., are signed by the precinct official, supposedly in the presence of two observers.

On the receiving end, the numbers and materials are meticulously checked against the paperwork, in the presence of observer(s). Every mismatched number is caught, noted on the documents and passed up the chain.

Absent observers on the buses - and I saw none, just drivers and assistants - the potential for tampering is huge, especially on the long trips from Ka'u and Kona. The latter bus delivers everything from North and South Kona, North and South Kohala, and Hamakua. It arrived at 1AM, five and a half hours after the polls close.

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