KIUC spokesperson answers questions about the election

At the suggestion of members of the state Public Utilities Commission, the Kaua’i Island Utility Cooperative board election is patterned after county and state governmental elections, a KIUC spokesperson said.

The same company that the state hired to provide ballot boxes and counting machines, Election Systems & Services (ES&S), has been retained by KIUC to manage the current board election, said Anne Barnes, KIUC communications coordinator.

As in governmental elections, where absentee mail-in ballots are sent to county officials before being turned over to the elections contractor, a KIUC mailroom employee has been collecting the mail-in ballots from the Lihu’e post office, and bringing them back to KIUC, where they have remained locked in a secure room, she said.

Still, some unanswered questions have persisted from KIUC members, so Barnes has answered them for The Garden Island.

Q: Why didn’t the ballots go directly to the firm conducting the election?

A: As in the county and state elections, ES&S is hired to print ballots, count and tabulate the results. KIUC has hired ES&S to do the same. For both elections, ballots are received by staff.

Q: Did the independent organization supervise the mailing of ballots?

A: Yes, ES&S printed the ballots. Another independent organization supervised the mailing of ballots.

Q: Is 15 (or fewer) calendar days enough time for people on the Mainland and overseas to return their ballots by the Feb. 15 deadline?

A: KIUC worked within the confines of their bylaws. The membership may decide to make changes in the bylaws governing subsequent elections.

Q: Since the ballots are to be returned to KIUC, can there be any assurance that integrity of voting is guaranteed?

A: We are relying on the integrity of the KIUC staff in the same manner that relying on the integrity of the County Clerk’s staff is relied upon for absentee ballots in state elections

Q: Some readers said the ballots, which indicate how candidates came to be nominated, appear to have a built-in bias in favor of KIUC board incumbents and that, contrary to information contained in the bylaws, all candidates aren’t competing on equal terms. How was it decided, and by whom, that nomination information would be included on the ballots?

A: The Organizing Board considered the issue in detail and, on the recommendation of the Nominating Committee, voted to include the source of the nomination on the ballot. This was done to give voters the benefit of the vetting of the candidates done by the Nominating Committee.

Q: Have you gotten much public input about the election process?

A: We’ve received close to 100 phone calls, almost exclusively process questions.

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