The Big Island Press Club has awarded its annual Lava Tube dishonor to Scott Nago, the state’s chief elections officer, for “lack of communication” during the 2014 primary election.

As you may recall, because of Hurricane-turned-Tropical Storm Iselle, about 8,000 voters were unable to get to the polls for voting last Aug. 9.

Polling locations at Hawaiian Paradise Park and Keonepoko Elementary School were closed, “with only a small handwritten sign at the entrance informing voters the poll was closed,” according to a press release from the club. The club says Nago did not do a good job informing Puna voters about the opportunity for walk-in voting a week later, on Aug. 15.

Scott Nago interview

Hawaii Election Chief Scott Nago talks to reporters, Aug. 22, 2014.

Nathan Eagle/Civil Beat

“Voters were therefore denied their opportunity to have a say in local, state, and the nationally important election for United States Senate,” says the club.

(A state Elections Commission investigation concluded last October that Nago acted appropriately in response to primary election problems in Puna.)

In other news, the press club awarded its Torch of Light Award to the team of scientists at USGS Hawaiian Volcano Observatory for working “tirelessly” since June 27 to keep the media and residents informed and up-to-date on the Kilauea lava flow that has threatened Pahoa.

The Big Island Press Club gives the Lava Tube and the Torch of Light awards annually on Freedom of Information Day, March 16, the birthday of James Madison.

Previous Lava Tube Dishonorees

  • 2013 Democratic Party House District 5 Council
  • 2012 State Sen. Clayton Hee
  • 2011 Governor Neil Abercrombie
  • 2010 Hawaii County Council
  • 2009 Noelani Whittington, County Department of Public Works
  • 2008 Mayor Harry Kim and Hawaii County Council
  • 2007 State Board of Education
  • 2006 Honolulu, Kauai, and Hawaii County Councils
  • 2005 District Judge Matthew S.K. Pyun
  • 2004 State Land Board Chairman Peter Young
  • 2003 State Sen. Cal Kawamoto
  • 2002 University of Hawaii Board of Regents
  • 2001 University of Hawaii Board of Regents
  • 2000 State Rep. Eric Hamakawa and Hawaii County Councilman James Arakaki
  • 1999 Hawaii County Council
  • 1998 Hawaii Gov. Ben Cayetano
  • 1997 Hawaii County Councilman Elroy Osorio

Previous Torch of Light Honorees

  • 2013 Mayor Billy Kenoi
  • 2012 County Councilwoman and state Rep. Helene Hale (posthumously)
  • 2011 State Judicial Selection Commission
  • 2010 Hawaii County Civil Defense and other departments
  • 2009 Legislature, Gov. Linda Lingle
  • 2008 Les Kondo, Office of Information Practices
  • 2007 West Hawaii Today
  • 2006 Lillian Koller, State Department of Human Services
  • 2005 Retired Circuit Judge Paul de Silva
  • 2004 UH Manoa Journalism Professor Beverly Keever
  • 2003 U.S. Rep. Patsy Mink (posthumously)
  • 2002 Hawaii County Mayor Harry Kim
  • 2001 Hawaii County Clerk Al Konishi
  • 2000 Hawaii Gov. Ben Cayetano
  • 1999 Jerry Rothstein and Judith Graham
  • 1998 Environment Hawaii and Common Cause
  • 1997 Society of Professional Journalists, Hawaii Chapter

About the Author