U.S. Rep. Colleen Hanabusa said Tuesday that she is considering a legal challenge to block Friday’s vote in two Puna precincts that could decide her Democratic primary for Senate against U.S. Sen. Brian Schatz. Hanabusa said she would likely argue to delay the vote until residents who are still without power and water can recover from Tropical Storm Iselle. The congresswoman also said that voters in two other Puna precincts that did open on Saturday should also be allowed to vote if they could not get to the precincts because of blocked roads. Hanabusa trails Schatz by 1,635 votes in the primary.
“We’re going to have to file something in court, because I feel that what’s going on is really disenfranchising a lot of people,” said Hanabusa, who is still discussing her legal strategy with counsel.
“Senator Schatz is working to help Puna residents get back on their feet,” Meaghan Smith, a spokeswoman for Schatz’s campaign, said in an email.”The independent nonpartisan experts at the Office of Elections and the county clerk from Hawaii Island are in a far better position to evaluate how to proceed with this election than anyone else.”
State Rep. Faye Hanohano, who represents the Puna region, also called for a delay in Friday’s vote. Hanohano is trailing attorney Joy San Buenaventura after early returns.