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.Full Article: Hawaii Supreme Court invalidates Trevor Ozawa’s 22-vote victory over Tommy Waters.
Articles about voting issues in Hawaii.
At least three state senators are drafting legislation that would require automatic recounts in close election races in Hawaii. The bills being drafted seek to avoid or more quickly resolve election disputes such as the one ongoing for a Honolulu City Council seat, the Honolulu Star-Advertiser reported Monday. The council is still without a ninth member after candidate Tommy Waters challenged Trevor Ozawa’s 22-vote victory at the last election.Full Article: Hawaii lawmakers draft bills for recounts in close elections | National Politics | dailyjournalonline.com.
As Hawaii readies for its primary elections, voters are grappling with an erupting volcano and Hurricane Hector. Elections are challenging times for candidates even in the best of circumstances. But Big Island politicians frequently have extra adversity, given they live on top of one of the world’s most active volcanoes and in the general vicinity of hurricanes that barrel through the central Pacific Ocean many summers. The island has a history of nature-related election disruptions: In 2014, Tropical Storm Iselle forced the same two precincts hit hardest by Kilauea volcano to close the day of the primary. The state Office of Elections organized a makeup election day for the two precincts six days later.Full Article: Hawaii grapples with lava, hurricane as election nears - StarTribune.com.
Political candidates running for office in areas heavily affected by Kilauea’s ongoing volcanic eruption on Hawaii island are complaining that the state Office of Elections is confusing voters and unnecessarily shutting down walk-in voting locations on the day of primary elections. Both Pahoa Community Center and Pahoa High and Intermediate School will be closed to voting Aug. 11 with no alternative walk-in location available. One County Council candidate is also concerned that plans to send absentee ballots to affected residents weeks ahead of schedule to compensate for the closures will give incumbents an unfair advantage. “They are basically pre-empting the election,” said Frederic Wirick, who is running for the Hawaii County Council District 5 seat, representing western Puna, against incumbent Jennifer Ruggles.Full Article: Closed voting sites and early absentee ballots raise concerns in Puna.
Hawaii: Lava prompts election officials to mail absentee voting applications | Hawaii Tribune-Herald
The State Office of Elections and the Hawaii County Elections Division on Monday announced they will be mailing absentee voting applications to more than 6,000 voters assigned to Pahoa Community Center (precinct 04-03) and Pahoa High/Intermediate (precinct 04-04) due to the uncertain nature of the volcanic eruption in lower Puna. Voters can use the absentee application to request a mail ballot for the 2018 elections, or to update their address if they have relocated.Full Article: Lava prompts election officials to mail absentee voting applications - Hawaii Tribune-Herald.
Are Hawaii voters ready to cast their votes by mail only? Some lawmakers think so. It’s a measure that’s been proposed and election officials have a strong argument for it. Chief election officer Scott Nago says the numbers show more people are not heading to the polls anymore. Voting by mail would also save the state money. We learned that 62 percent voted absentee during the 2016 primary. For the general election, absentee votes made up 54 percent.Full Article: Lawmakers consider conducting Hawaii’s elections entirely by mail | KHON2.
A bill that attempts to ramp up Hawaii’s voter turnout by mandating all-mail elections is now headed to the full House of Representatives. House Bill 2541 cleared the Finance Committee after a hearing Tuesday. The bill calls for eventually mailing out all ballots and closing traditional polling places. The Aloha State has had the worst voter turnout in the country for the last five presidential elections. And just 35 percent of voters participated in the 2014 primary election, a record low. Oregon switched to all-mail ballots 20 years ago and has seen increased voter participation ever since. Washington and Colorado also vote exclusively by mail.Full Article: Hawaii May Switch To All-Mail Elections In 2020 - Honolulu Civil Beat.
A slew of so-called good government bills cleared a critical legislative hurdle this week and are poised for final approval next week. But the measure that arguably would have had the most significant impact on Hawaii’s democracy did not make it across Friday’s deadline for bills to advance. House Bill 1401 would have enacted voting by mail uniformly across all counties for all elections in 2020. Rep. Scott Nishimoto, the lead House conferee on the bill as well as its author, told his counterpart, Sen. Gil Keith-Agaran, shortly after 5 p.m. that both lawmakers agreed on many aspects of the bill. But Nishimoto did not get clearance from House leadership, and so HB 1401 will have to wait until next year.Full Article: All-Mail Balloting Bill Dies In Final Hour Of Conference - Honolulu Civil Beat.
Already, nearly half of people who vote in the state do so by mail. “This bill would change the way we vote in Hawaii in an attempt to increase voter participation and reduce costs,” Rep. Chris Todd, D-Hilo, wrote in a Facebook post. “HB 1401 would mean every registered voter receives a ballot in the mail and mails it back in — this process is already available by request, but this bill would make it the norm.” The bill passed third reading and House conferees were appointed to iron out wrinkles. Voters could still cast ballots in person if they prefer. But long lines at polling stations would presumably become a thing of the past. Each eligible voter would be mailed a ballot prior to an election and asked to mail it back.Full Article: Will voting by mail become standard? Hawaii lawmakers considering bill that would make it the norm | Hawaii Tribune-Herald.
Hawaii has the lowest voter turnout rate in the nation, according to a recent study released by Nonprofit VOTE and the U.S. Elections Project. And that’s not a new distinction. The 2016 “America Goes to the Polls” report reveals this is the fifth presidential election in a row in which the state has ranked dead last for voter participation. According to the study, approximately 3 out of 5 eligible voters in Hawaii did not cast a ballot during the last presidential election. The voter turnout rate for the 2016 presidential election was 43 percent. How does that compare to other states or the rest of the country as a whole?Full Article: Lawmakers say mail-in voting could bolster Hawaii's abysmal vote - Hawaii News Now - KGMB and KHNL.
Dale Kobayashi is still smarting. Six months after narrowly losing a state legislative race to Rep. Isaac Choy, the longtime Manoa resident wishes Hawaii had a recount law on the books. Kobayashi lost to Choy in the Democratic primary in August by 70 votes out of more than 5,400 votes cast. Choy won with 47.6 percent of the vote compared with 46.4 for Kobayashi. “When a race is so close, you want to double-check the count,” Kobayashi said Wednesday. Kobayashi, the son of Honolulu City Councilwoman Ann Kobayashi, is already planning to run again in 2018. And if the race is close again, Kobayashi just might get that recount — if a bill making its way through the Legislature this session becomes law.Full Article: Bill Would Require Recounts In Close Hawaii Elections - Civil Beat News.
Hawaii: Lawmakers to again consider vote-by-mail system, automatic voter registration | Hawaii News Now
Last legislative session, two bills aimed at addressing Hawaii’s low voter turnout failed to clear a final hurdle. Not even lawmakers can explain why. “We may not have felt we had the money to do that at this point,” state Sen. Karl Rhoads said. “Then there are people who just don’t think it’s the right move.” The proposed measures would have set up automatic voter registration and transition the state to mostly mail-in ballots. They’ll be introduced again this year. And Common Cause Hawaii is already gathering support for both bills. “People are even more concerned about making sure that their voices are heard and their votes are counted,” executive director Corie Tanida said. Both bills are aimed at addressing Hawaii’s chronically low voter turnout. Hawaii’s turnout in November was 58 percent, down from 62 percent four years earlier.Full Article: Lawmakers to again consider vote-by-mail system, automatic voter - Hawaii News Now - KGMB and KHNL.
More than a thousand absentee ballots mailed in for the general election were not counted. Despite lingering questions about the process, elections officials will once again push for an all mail-in election. When Always Investigating looked into ballot irregularities for the primary election, we found out several hundred ballots were invalidated over missing or mismatched signatures. For the general election, that more than doubled. Despite that rate, all-mail-in voting is a real possibility. This week, the Hawaii Elections Commission prepares for its first meeting since the election to go over what went right and wrong. The agenda includes an all-mail initiative they’re backing at the Legislature again this year.Full Article: Election officials back all-mail process despite rise in uncounted ballots | KHON2.
The death of one of Hawaii’s congressmen has led to an unusual ballot and voter confusion in urban Honolulu.
The rare double election means residents in the 1st Congressional District are selecting someone to fill the late U.S. Rep. Mark Takai’s seat for the two-month unfinished term and someone to represent the district for the next two years. Takai died in office last July. The situation could lead to two different people winning the same House seat on election night, to serve the two different terms. Former U.S. Rep. Colleen Hanabusa is one of the candidates. The Democrat is hoping to return to her old seat in Congress, which she gave up to run for Senate two years ago.
A federal appeals court is upholding an earlier decision to support the way Hawaii holds its primary elections, rejecting the Democratic Party’s desire to exclude non-Democrats from advancing candidates to the general election. The Democratic Party of Hawaii had challenged the state’s open primary system where registered voters can choose any party’s ballot to cast their votes without formally joining the party. Party leaders wanted to limit primary elections to formal members or people willing to declare their allegiance, because they said the open primary system allows people from opposing parties to influence their party’s candidate selection. Judge Wallace Tashima of the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals said it was up to the Hawaii Democratic Party to prove that problem exists. But he said in an opinion Monday the party didn’t provide evidence that opponents are determining the Democratic Party’s election outcomes.Full Article: Federal appeals court upholds Hawaii's open primary | National News | qctimes.com.
Hawaii voters will be asked who should serve out the remainder of the late Mark Takai’s term in Washington — possibly on the same day they decide who should represent the 1st Congressional District in the next term starting in January. A special winner-take-all election will most likely be held in conjunction with the Nov. 8 general election, according to the state Office of Elections. But the winner of that special election will only serve for two months — from Nov. 8 until the current session of Congress wraps up on Jan. 3, 2017. The Aug. 13 primary will go on as scheduled, as will the general election. Takai died Wednesday in Honolulu at the age of 49.Full Article: How Two Different People Could Win The Same US House Seat - Civil Beat News.
The Hawaii Supreme Court ruled Tuesday that the the method the state Elections Office used to order an insufficient number of ballots in the 2012 general election should have undergone an official rule-making process instead of just being an internal management decision. The Green Party of Hawaii sued Chief Elections Officer Scott Nago and the state in December 2012, asking the courts to stop him from conducting another election until there were new rules in place to prevent the type of voter disenfranchisement that occurred that November. In all, 24 precincts ran out of ballots on Election Day, leading to long lines and some voters abandoning the effort. The lawsuit says 57 voters were denied the right to vote, and ballots had to be rushed to dozens of other precincts that ran low.Full Article: Court Rules Against Elections Office In Ballot Shortage Case - Civil Beat News.
The deadline to register for the primary election on Aug. 13 is next Thursday. And to get more people signed up, the state will be hosting registration events statewide. “We’ll be having them statewide — three on the Big Island, one on Maui, one on Kauai and one here on O’ahu,” said Scott Nago, the state’s chief election officer. The drive, which will include new TV ads, is aimed at changing Hawaii’s last-in-the-nation ranking for voter turnout. And voting officials say they’re hopeful this year, not least of which because a new online registration system has already resulted in more residents signed up.Full Article: State hopeful online registration will boost voter turnout - Hawaii News Now - KGMB and KHNL.
There’s no dispute that the 2012 general election was marred by widespread ballot shortages that caused confusion and delays at many polling places. Now the Hawaii Supreme Court will have to decide what, if anything, needs to be done about it. The court heard oral arguments last week in the appeal of a lawsuit brought by the Green Party of Hawaii and seven individual voters stemming from the 2012 ballot fiasco. The plaintiff’s contend the methods and procedures for printing and handling ballots are in fact agency rules that should have been adopted pursuant to the state’s Administrative Procedures Act. They sought a ruling that elections officials be required to go through the public rule-making process before applying them in future elections.Full Article: Ian Lind: Justices Aren't Buying That Voting Rights Weren't Violated - Civil Beat News.
Two bills aimed at making it easier to vote will head into conference committee today at the state Legislature. The legislation would allow residents to automatically register to vote when applying or renewing a driver’s license and would start a vote-by-mail program. The House and Senate each passed versions of the bills. Lawmakers will be tasked with working out the differences. The registration measure, House Bill 401, would give residents the option of registering to vote or updating their voter information while taking care of their license. Rep. Nicole Lowen, D-Kona, is a co-sponsor. HB 1653 in its latest form would require the state Office of Elections to start a vote-by-mail program incrementally. Mail ballots currently are limited to absentee voters.Full Article: Voting reforms mulled | Hawaii Tribune-Herald.