The Hawaii Supreme Court this afternoon invalidated Trevor Ozawa’s 22-vote victory over Tommy Waters for the City Council District 4 seat. “Because the correct results of the November, 6, 2018 special election for the city councilmember seat for District IV cannot be determined, the special election must be invalidated” the court said in a 55-page opinion signed by all five justices. “The second special election for councilmember for District IV, City and County of Honolulu, is invalidated.” City Clerk Glen Takahashi, in an email to Council members, said “while we are still reviewing, we will be required to re-run the election for Council district IV.” The re-vote will likely need to occur within 120 days.
The court said “the critical issue … concerns the collection of 350 absentee mail-in return envelopes by the City Clerk at the Honolulu Airport post office on election day of November 6, 2018. Under our election law, these envelopes were required to be ‘received’ by the City Clerk no later than the close of the polls on election day, which was set in statute at 6 p.m.”
As a result, the ruling said, “We conclude that the 350 absentee mail-in return envelopes were ‘received’ by the City Clerk after the deadline established by state law, and accordingly, the ballots contained should not have been counted.”
During oral arguments last week, state Deputy Attorney General Valri Kunimoto told the Hawaii Supreme Court on Tuesday that there’s no way the state Office of Elections can separate the 350 Council District 4 absentee mail-in ballots from other votes.