Hawaii County Elections clerk Jamae Kawauchi on Tuesday dispelled rumors that the Federal Bureau of Investigation was looking into allegations of voter fraud on the Big Island.

But Kawauchi confirmed that her office had conducted an audit and discovered a “few instances” of people who had voted twice in the 2010 election.

Kawauchi was speaking to reporters at the state Capitol for the first time in a week after the voter fraud allegations surfaced. She had also apparently left Hawaii Office of Elections officer Scott Nago out of the loop about what was happening. Kawauchi closed the county elections office to finish an audit without first informing Nago, leading to well-publicized tensions last week. Nago took the unusual step of sending Kawauchi a letter criticizing her lack of communication. Even U.S. Senate candidate Linda Lingle weighed in with criticism.

County clerks are in charge of voter registration and early mail-in and in-person voting. State election officials, who cover state elections and polling places, don’t hold much administrative authority over the clerks.

But Nago and the four county elections clerks, including Kawauchi, met Tuesday morning and announced later that day that voting procedures are “right on track.”

“We worked through our issues,” said Nago, who refused to offer any details about the sequence of events.

The Big Island elections official has come under fire for a number of reasons.

Kawauchi closed her office and called for the audit last Monday, less than three weeks before the primary election. She said she and her staff needed “quiet time” to review the voter registry and complete other tasks. Kawauchi didn’t notify state elections officials of the closure until that afternoon and acknowledged that she should’ve done so earlier in the day.

Kawauchi said she called the audit because she’s new at her job — she’s held the position since 2010 — and wanted to ensure that everything was accurate.

“We found a few instances where voter names were duplicated,” she said. “They were in different districts and precincts, there was no pattern. My understanding is that… I don’t think it’s out of the ordinary. That’s just something with a routine review you’d find.”

The audit revealed that there were between 50 to 60 instances of duplicate voter registrations.

“It’s a very human system administered by human beings,” said Glen Takahashi, Elections Administrator for the City and County of Honolulu. This level of registration duplication, he said, would not be considered voter fraud. According to Takahashi, the state hasn’t seen voter fraud since the 1980s.

Takahashi also noted that the state Office of Elections generally avoids bringing these types of findings to the city attorney’s office because it can have a chilling effect on voter turnout.

Hawaii elections officials discovered four instances where people voted twice in the 2010 elections, according to Kawauchi.

She even took the matter to the state attorney general’s office — a move that fueled media speculation about voter fraud. On Tuesday Kawauchi explained that she decided to discuss the matter with department because it seemed “most appropriate.”

“It was probably just an abundance of caution,” said Takahashi.

The Hawaii County office also sent out about 175 yellow voter registration notices that contained inaccurate polling site information — misprints that likely stemmed from redistricting, according to Kawauchi.

This mistake got blown out of proportion when a “communication error” with the Hawaii Tribune Herald led to a report that her office would have to re-send 101,000 of the yellow cards. There are about 101,000 people total registered to vote in Hawaii County.

As of Tuesday, the Hilo office hadn’t re-sent any voter registration notices, according to Kawauchi. The voters who received misprinted notices reside on two streets, she said.

About the Author