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Friday, April 22, 2011
Former California Mayor Jumps Into Hawaii Election Legislation Controversy
By News Release @ 2:09 PM :: 9084 Views :: Maui County, Education K-12, Energy, Environment, National News, Ethics

From Smart Business Hawaii

Tony Santos, former resident of Hawaii, Farrington High School student, and past Mayor of the City of San Leandro, California, has been actively advising Hawaii lawmakers to kill off a proposal to establish Instant Runoff Voting on the county level.

House Bill No. 638, HD1 SD1 would force the City & County of Honolulu along with the County of Hawaii to implement a new type of voting procedure during special elections called ‘instant runoff voting’ or ‘ranked choice voting’ which requires voters to rank candidates in order of preference rather than merely selecting one candidate to vote for, Honolulu City Council Member Tom Berg said.

In a letter to lawmakers, Santos writes: “I have been monitoring your consideration of IRV for the past several months and I have been somewhat disturbed by the process used to pass the measure in the State Legislature. It is my understanding the measure applies to County government only and so the question of implementation of the measure is critical. From speaking to family members in Hawaii they know nothing about IRV and have no knowledge on how the system works. This is difficult for most individuals using IRV. There is confusion about applying IRV and it further discriminates against minorities and is basically undemocratic. The method does not produce as a majority winner as claimed by its supporters.”

He notes that the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals, which has jurisdiction over Hawaii, is considering whether IRV is constitutionality. The case emanates from San Francisco’s referendum, which was done in 2004, and could render Hawaii’s new law unconstitutional.

Also, four communities – Aspen, Colorado, Burlington, Vermont, Cary, NC and Pierce County, Washington – that had IRV in place have now repealed IRV, Santos said.

Yesterday, the Honolulu City Council adopted Resolution 11-116 asking the Hawaii State Legislature to defer action on the IRV legislation.

Berg said “It’s a huge infringement on the long established concept of home rule and an assault on our democratic form of government in clear violation of the Constitutional principle of one man-one vote.  It’s also an unfunded, discriminatory mandate on just two of our four counties during a time of scarce resources.”

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