Friday, July 23, 2010


BACK ON THE CHOPPING BLOCK: We’ve spent the last day or so chuckling over the latest kafuffle caused by the same vague Hawai`i election laws that cause another “dance of the headless chicken” that surrounded the Kirk Caldwell affair last election- a matter we spent in inordinate amount of bandwidth on after the filing deadline in 2008.

It was the first of the numerous bizarre dust-ups caused by the then-new Chief Elections Officer Kevin “King” Cronin who thankfully has skulked back into the hole from whence he came after numerous Louis XIV-style “L'État, c'est moi" decisions.

But leave it to the legislature to fail to try to figure out how to write clear laws or the elections bureau to write clear administrative rules in the interim and now we have a whole new dance to enjoy.

As many have heard by now some slimy little Republican, David Hamman, a Princeville locksmith tried, apparently successfully, to game the system by filing and withdrawing his papers to challenge Representative Mina Morita in the 14th House District actually admitting he did it to extend the deadline so the party could pick a “candidate” after the filing deadline.

We put the word candidate in quotes because the definition of just what that may be is the bone of contention according to Morita who has blogged twice on the subject.

Apparently Scott Nago, the new Chief Elections Officer, is as challenged as his predecessor and okayed the switcheroo and today the Republicans did name a replacement, Harry R. Williams, a Kapa`a contractor.

But it comes down to whether Hamman was ever a candidate for the house because after withdrawing he filed his papers to run for the vacating seat of former State Senator and now Lt. Governor candidature Gary Hooser.

HRS 11-117 says

Withdrawal of candidates; disqualification; death; notice. (a) Any candidate may withdraw not later than 4:30 p.m. on the day immediately following the close of filing for any reason...

On receipt of the notice of death, withdrawal, or upon determination of disqualification, the chief election officer or the clerk shall inform the chairperson of the political party of which the person deceased, withdrawing, or disqualified was a candidate.

And HRS 118 says:

Vacancies; new candidates; insertion of names on ballots. (a) In case of death, withdrawal, or disqualification of any party candidate after filing, the vacancy so caused may be filled by the party....

(b) If the party fills the vacancy, and so notifies the chief election officer or clerk not later than 4:30 p.m. on the third day after the vacancy occurs... the name of the replacement shall be printed in an available and appropriate place on the ballot,

But Hawaii Administrative Rule (HAR) Chapter 3-173-1, defines “candidate” as “an individual who has qualified for placement on the ballot.”

And in Hawai`i no one may be a candidate for two offices.

Under the law apparently only Mina’s party- the Democrats- can file in 5th Circuit Court to overrule Nago’s decision but the point is that with two years to do so, neither the legislature or the elections bureau even attempted to change the law or rules to deal with the ambiguities and write some election laws that are clear and not wide open for manipulation and abuse with loopholes you could drive a Superferry through.

In an email today Morita said she is “still looking at all my options and working with the party” and as of press time we haven’t heard anything about a court filing. But unless and until the election laws regarding election filing deadlines gets a good hard look and some much needed clarifications and indeed changes are made we’ll be right back here in 2012.

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