UNTRAINABLE: When we heard that the 2000 elections Florida fiasco was spurring election balloting reform we thought maybe there would finally be a universal, impeccable criterion for casting and counting the vote- maybe even (gasp) a national standard.
But the dolts in Congress instead thought that electronics and technology was the answer and so decided to promote the use of the most easily compromised of all balloting techniques- computers.
Then the states followed suit selecting big-black-opaque-box methodologies rather than the obviously superior paper ballots and optical scanners.
The latter is the method endorsed universally by international election observers and national organizations like FairVote and The League of Women Voters (LWV) - not to mention standardized school-test providers- as the most accurate, transparent and untamperable technology of all.
Not only was a national standard not on the table but some of the individual states’ elections bureaus seemed as though they never gave a thought to how to run an accurate, fair and verifiable election.
Inquiring minds wanted to know- “who are these idiots who don’t get it - where do they come from”? Who were these people who were ignoring all the protests over a lack of a verifiable paper trial and potential electronic hacking- not to mention the absurd use of outside, contracted, propriety systems rather than transparent in-house arrangements?.
Now we know. They apparently come from Wisconsin and their name is Kevin Cronin, the new Hawai`i Chief Elections Officer .
Today an administrative hearings officer tore Cronin a new one- or more accurately widened the one that was originally augered by a slew of other self-induced orifice expanding procedures- finding that Cronin used “a ‘reckless disregard” for state procurement laws (and) attempted to manipulate both the data and the facts in order to justify the award of a contract” to Hart InterCivic to conduct our next election, according to today’s Honolulu Advertiser.
The article says that Cronin, who reportedly had previous business ties to elections equipment provider Hart “was unqualified to do the cost analysis” and according to the administrative ruling his conclusions were “incomplete, inaccurate, unreliable and misleading”, in approving Hart’s bid of $52.8 million over an $18.1 million bid by Election Systems & Software (ES&S) to provide election equipment.
The judge called Cronin’s decision "clearly unreasonable." according to the article.
The shenanigans of King Cronin- who last month claimed he was still the “de facto” Elections Chief when it was found he didn’t comply with the requirements for the job in not registering to vote in Hawai`i - have reached the point where lunatics like racist Ken Conkin and Republican stalwart State Senator Sam Sloam sound like reasonable, sane people in calling for him to be fired.
Cronin has apparently succeeded in doing something no one in the islands has been able to do- bring the Democrats and Republicans together.
But let’s remember how this “new” chief elections officer came to the office.
Arguably Dwayne Yoshina administered Hawai`i elections as flawlessly as could be expected for a decade.
But in the election when Hawai`i switched from the old punch cards to the new optical scan of paper ballots, horror of horrors, they took until way after midnight to get the count right what with the use of new equipment- mostly because the usual election observers and the staff were not yet experienced with the new system so kept asking for reviews and safeguards to make sure everything was accurate and all the new procedures were being followed.
This was described to us by a source at the elections bureau- one who we know to be of impeccable integrity- who was “at the podium” in the vote counting center in the State House chamber with Yoshina that night as his assistant-in-charge.
Well the media blew a gasket. “How dare Yoshina keep us waiting” they whined. In the days after the election the actual results were give short shrift compared to the recriminations over the delays that inconvenienced the reporters from the papers and TV news outlets.
And, sensing political gain, joining them in their sniveling and taking up the battle cry was gubernatorial loser Linda Lingle who called for Yoshina’s head.
Then, after a long somewhat ugly battle where all the pols distanced themselves from Yoshina, Lingle was elected four years later and they finally had the wherewithal to replace all the election commissioners with enough anti-Yoshina-ites to force him out by refusing to renewing his contract.
And who did they pick as a permanent replacement? Some government lawyer from Wisconsin who had not only never been involved with Hawai`i elections and was unfamiliar with our election laws and procedures but had never even been involved in any elections anywhere.
And they picked a guy who makes the words “arbitrary and capricious decision making” sound like a compliment..
Cronin’s imperial administration has become the biggest laughing stock in Honolulu and across the state- and that’s hard to do considering the usual band of connected, appointed baboozes that head up many of our state government entities.
Perhaps the “tearing of a new one” we referred to earlier helped facilitate the extraction of some of Cronin’s other rulings of late, such as the one that held that all withdrawals from election races had to be in writing despite the fact that the actual law doesn’t require it and in fact denotes the singular circumstances- for health reasons- under which a written withdrawal is necessary.
Or his order to print the ballots while challenges were still pending and failing to let anyone examine them beforehand, both of which are violations of state law.
As we detailed* quite a few times the candidate withdrawal ruling threw the Honolulu County Clerk’s office into turmoil since it called into question whether a replacement candidate for Kirk Caldwell was selected in the “three day window”- as a lawsuit filed by the Republican Party this week claims- and therefore in fact who would be on the ballots... which were already printed.
Through the Kaua`i and State LWV we often worked with Yoshina and many in his office as observers and never had a complaint about his running anything but a fair and transparent election.
Dwayne bent over backwards to integrate all observers into the process and no one we ever heard from left the tabulation centers without all reasonable concerns being addressed.
Yet political hacks like Lingle and some in the legislature-especially the leadership at the time- couldn’t leave well enough alone. They had to bring in an inexperienced pompous ass from 4000 miles away to do things as wrong as he could for as long as he could and then, rather than acknowledge mistakes, defend them and claim the privilege to make more.
And the big winner in all this? Well let’s just say don’t expect to hear much about Rex “got Porn?” Johnson this week.
*Correction and Note: We reported in error last week that only withdrawals after the filing deadline could spur a replacement but, though the wording in HRS 11-118 was a little unclear, we did misinterpreted the plain meaning. Strangely enough no one pointed out our mistake. We regret the error.