New Election: Hawaii Supreme Court invalidates Ozawa's win over Waters for City Council seat
KITV: …The Hawaii Supreme Court has invalidated Trevor Ozawa's win over Tommy Waters for the Honolulu City Council District four seat on Friday afternoon. State law requires that a new election be held within one-hundred days of today's ruling. The Supreme Court ruled in favor of Waters and against the State Office of Elections….
KITV: Full interviews: Trevor Ozawa and Tommy Waters react to Hawaii Supreme Court decision
read … New Election
Supreme Court Ruling Challenges Vote-by-Mail Procedures
ILind: …Justices keyed repeatedly during oral arguments on the issue of handling last-minute ballots delivered by mail, which were required to be “received” by election officials by the 6 p.m. deadline set by law. Waters, in his legal challenge, argued that a sweep of these ballots at the post office well after that deadline should not have been allowed, and the ballots should not have been counted.
Justices at several points directly questioned attorneys representing election officials about why their “past practice” explanation should be accepted when the late pickup was contrary to the plain language of the election law. They apparently found the answers unpersuasive.
That issue of the handling of that small batch of ballots became the basis for a narrow court ruling. However, in the process of working through the issues in this case, the justices–aided by the questions highlighted by Waters and the voters who joined the election challenge–managed to touch on other areas where election law and practice need to be more carefully reviewed by those who are not insiders in the current system.
For example, absentee ballots accounted for 56% of all ballots cast statewide in the 2018 general election. Election officials presented data showing nearly 5% of all absentee ballots were discarded because of problems validating voter’s signatures. Voters were never notified that their ballots had been invalidated or given an opportunity to confirm their identification and votes. That seems to be an issue waiting to blow up in the next tight election campaign.
It was noted during oral arguments that election officials made use of the Department of Motor Vehicles signature database, while election law and administrative rules say the only valid comparison is to the voter’s absentee ballot affidavit or voter registration. Another apparently conflict between law and practice….
read … Court points to election administration problems
New election not a complete solution
KHON: What the new election will not resolve, is the issue of ballot-handling by the State Elections Office that resulted in the state Supreme Court's ruling.
KHON2 Political Analyst John Hart told us some foundational changes are in order.
“Clearly we are going to have to change the laws. I think we are going to be a lot like the other states. Maybe if it's within one percent, you have an automatic recount.”
However, Hart says a recount would not have resolved this election, because late ballots were mixed in with valid ballots -- in short, the state's own election law was not being followed.
“So they're going to have to not only change the law, they're going to have to enforce whatever law they do have.”
The nature of the new election hasn't been decided, whether it will be a mail-in ballot or more traditional precinct voting.
“It will be very interesting, how many people in East Honolulu come out to vote for this. Will more come out because of all the interest, or will less people come out, because at the end of the day, this is only one race.”
read … New election not a complete solution
LINK: Waters vs. Nago SCEC-18-0000909 (55 pgs)