When I was talking with political analysts immediately following the Aug. 9 Hawaii Primary Election, I kept hearing the same thing: the situation down in Puna on the Big Island was a mess and it would be weeks before we got closure on the very tight U.S. Senate race, which they day after the election was separated by a mere 1,600 or so votes. This was because state law gave the Office of Elections three weeks to get things organized.
But instead of taking the time they had, the state Elections office decided to hold a special election in Puna just one week later. Democratic Senate candidate Colleen Hanabusa challenged that, but the courts rejected her case. After the election and U.S. Senator Brian Schatz came out the top Democrat, Hanabusa decided to pass on filing another challenge. But the ACLU’s Hawaii office had no such qualms, and filed a suit on Aug. 21 in the Hawaii Supreme Court saying that the quick timing of the election disenfranchised voters.
“Although the votes in question may not change the outcome of any of the various races, the ACLU filed this suit because the right to vote is a cornerstone of our democracy,” ACLU Hawaii Senior Staff Attorney Daniel Gluck said in an Aug. 21 news release. “Every vote counts equally–this is about an individual exercising a fundamental right and not about the results of any single race. The government has a duty to respond to conditions on the ground to make sure people can vote. Here the government failed to do that, and changes are needed now to preserve the integrity of future elections.”
Photo: Dude7248/Wikimedia Commons