By Derrick DePledge
Gov. Neil Abercrombie said Thursday that he was given no damage assessments from Hawaii island during the primary that indicated widespread evidence that Tropical Storm Iselle was causing voting problems outside of the two precincts in Puna that did not open that day.
In a letter to the state Elections Commission, Abercrombie acknowledged that he had the emergency power under state law to adjust the hours for voting, suspend the hours of voting, or fix other hours of voting through an election proclamation.
But the governor said he received no evidence that Puna residents outside of the two precincts that were closed could not get to their polling stations.
"In the absence of such reports, any action by me as governor to adjust or suspend the hours of voting would have been overreaching the powers vested in me by" state law, he wrote.
Scott Nago, the state's chief election officer, has said he had heard a request by state Sen. Russell Ruderman (D, Puna) to extend voting hours because of storm damage in other precincts. Nago said he relayed Ruderman's concerns to the state Attorney General's Office to inform Abercrombie. Nago told reporters last week that he did not know why the governor did not act.
But Nago also said he did not receive any objective information from Hawaii County officials to justify extending the polls.