Tuesday, September 15, 2009


Testimony posted for today’s hearing on Hawaii Office of Elections

by Larry Geller

Testimony for today’s Ways and Means hearing on the Office of Elections situation (1:30 p.m., room 211) is available for you to read, here (pdf).

This doesn’t look good.

This is from the prepared testimony of Kevin Cronin, Chief Elections Officer:

We acknowledge and recognize the right of the public to know the extent of preparations for the 2010 elections and the challenges to them that the Office of Elections' current budget presents. It is important this election information is shared with the public. This committee's similar acknowledgement and recognition is appreciated.

We wish we could, and would like to, say our election preparations are progressing reasonably. We understand this is what many may like to hear and believe.

Regretfully, however, we cannot provide such a report at this time. Unfortunately, our reparations are facing very serious challenges that, hopefully, with your assistance and on other fronts with the administration, we can mitigate.

It only gets worse.

From farther down in the testimony, looking at a possible 2010 scenario:

… Few elections office staff members are available now with limited funds available to plan, organize, and prepare for a new election system to enable perhaps more than 450,000 people to use on election days with unknowable results to elect the state's county, state, and federal officials. With questionable elections staff capacity to plan, organize, and prepare election materials and supplies to be ready on time including training, the voters may encounter significant obstructions, delays, and other impediments to vote, resulting in consequences that may differ among individuals and groups some of whom may decide not to vote.

There is much here to be concerned about. Today’s hearing is before the legislature, and they are being asked for help. But can they help? How?

Finally, we have been urging the administration since December 2008 when the first vacant position arose during a freeze on hiring to authorize us to fill what has increased to 4 vacant and 15 seasonal worker positions. While the Department of Budget and Finance approved during March 2009 the filling of the then vacant positions, the administration has continued to decline to do so, the number of vacancies persists, and the need to hire the seasonal workers that draws near each day becomes more compelling.

In other words, the legislature giveth, but the governor taketh away. I think that’s going to be the challenge facing our legislators today.

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