Scott Nago will keep his job as chief election officer, the Elections Commission announced at a Jan. 25 meeting.
“We acknowledge that mistakes were made, but the chief election officer will be retained,” said commission chair William Marston.
The commission made the decision after a special subcommittee investigated ballot shortages and outages that created long wait lines at the polls in the Nov. 6 election (causing some would-be voters to give up altogether).
The commissioners heard the subcommittee’s report and deliberated in an executive session lasting an hour and a half. Marston said later by phone that despite the length of the session, there was no dissent among the members regarding the decision to impose no disciplinary action.
The subcommittee, which interviewed five to six department heads in the Office of Elections, reported that they “found there was no wrongdoing or anything unlawful,” and that “there was not one single cause for the shortage of the ballots, but rather several operational problems that we are trying to solve in the elections office.”
The commission is not alone in attempting to prevent future problems. There are 19 bills going through the Legislature dealing with election registration and oversight, and 16 regarding Internet or by-mail voting.
All-mail-in elections have been offered, and endorsed by the governor, as one possible solution to prevent ballot shortages. Nago’s office submitted bills he called “model legislation” to the Legislature (HB 199 and SB 412) that would permit the Office of Elections to conduct future elections completely by mail, though Office of Elections Spokesperson Rex Quidilla said this doesn’t necessarily mean the office is recommending that route.
“What we attempted to do was draft legislation that forms a starting point,” said Quidilla. “It’s not simply the expanded version of absentee voting,” and would require significant restructuring, he said.