Hanabusa Files Lawsuit Against Hawaii Office of Elections
With the Democratic Senate primary in Hawaii too close to call and several thousand votes on the line, Rep. Colleen Hanabusa, D-Hawaii, has sued the state’s Office of Elections to postpone Friday’s special election date.
A hurricane descended on Hawaii during last weekend’s primary, forcing officials to postpone elections in two precincts on the Big Island. They decided Monday to hold special elections on Friday.
Hanabusa currently trails Sen. Brian Schatz, also a Democrat, by 1,635 votes.
Hanabusa filed the lawsuit with the third circuit court Wednesday, roughly 36 hours before the Friday special election. The two precincts include an estimated 8,000 voters. In her lawsuit, Hanabusa argued the election should be postponed because people in storm-ravaged neighborhoods are still without power and need more time to recover before they can head to the polls.
“It is unlikely that full power will be restored to the area and that roads will be unblocked prior to or on Friday, August 15, 2014,” the complaint reads, “making it impossible to ensure that residents will receive adequate notice of the August 15, 2014, election, depriving voters in these areas of their right to vote.”
Schatz’s campaign issued a statement following the lawsuit announcement, which noted, “The Office of Elections or the courts will determine the best way to move forward to maximize voter participation,” adding that voters “must be given fair access to voting and the Senator’s campaign will be committed and respectful whenever the election is held.”
In a Tuesday letter to Scott Nago, the Aloha State’s chief election officer, Hanabusa also said that voters in two additional precincts should be able to vote in the special election.
According to Hanabusa, although the polling places in the two other precincts remained open during the storm, a number of voters could not get to the polls due to the inclement weather.
However, Hanabusa did not address opening up the special election to the additional precincts in her complaint filed to the court Wednesday.
Kyle Trygstad contributed to this report.
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