By Associated Press - Friday, July 10, 2015

HONOLULU (AP) - Hawaii’s elections chief is getting a $10,000 raise despite criticism over uncounted absentee ballots.

Chief Election Officer Scott Nago was the target of voter frustration after a storm closed precincts leading up to the August 2014 primary, and a glitch resulted in 800 uncounted absentee ballots from Maui voters, the Honolulu Star-Advertiser reported (https://bit.ly/1KUXkgr).

The office also received push-back from the public during the 2012 general election when voters arrived at polls to find there weren’t enough ballots. No wrongdoing was uncovered in the incident under a review by an Elections Commission subcommittee.

Thursday, the Elections Commission voted 7-1 in a closed-door meeting to approve the raise, which could go as high as $120,000 based Salary Commission limits.

Commission Chairman William Marston said Nago should not be punished for glitches and problems that were later resolved.



“There was a glitch, and it was caught by the system,” he said. “The votes weren’t lost.”

He said the department had no experience dealing with weather-related elections issues.

“So what did Nago do? He obeyed the law and the statutes. And if he’s criticized for that, that’s wrong,” Marston said. “When the roads were cleared, Nago announced that the precincts were open. He did what he had to do to get the election completed.”

Nago has held the job since 2010.

House Bill 15 was adopted following the incidents, clarifying how absentee ballots would be distributed among the counties and establishing a performance review process for Nago’s job.

Commission members on Tuesday also voted to interview the only applicant to replace Marston as the commission’s chair.

The interview will be closed and has been set for Aug. 17.

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Information from: Honolulu Star-Advertiser, https://www.staradvertiser.com

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