The Na’i Aupuni Election Process
by OHA Trustee Rowena Akana, Ka Wai Ola, December, 2015
A no 'ai kakou…The ballots for the Na'i Aupuni Election were mailed to certified voters on November 1, 2015 and voting ended on November 30, 2015. So the Election results should be announced by the time this column is published.
This is an exciting time for Native Hawaiians. We have not had this type of consensus building opportunity since the overthrow of our kingdom and we should take hold of this opportunity to start the process of deciding how we want to move forward in unity.
While I am pleased that the Na’i Aupuni Election was finally able to proceed, I was surprised to see that the candidates' names were listed on the ballot in a "randomized" order and not in alphabetical order.
Na'i Aupuni decided to list the candidates in a random order to give everyone a chance to be at the top of the ballot. While I can understand why they made change, an argument can be made about whether the list was truly “random." For example, two of the top five names listed on the Oahu ballot were OHA employees. I'm sure this was just a coincidence, but most voters would agree that it seems suspicious.
According to a Honolulu Star-Advertiser article dated November 3, 2015, “Hawaiians' election for constitutional convention begins,” reported that the Na’i Aupuni election suffered from a rash of candidates dropping out and one calling the election "fixed." There have been other complaints in the community that OHA is trying to control the process. Having OHA employees at the top of the ballot doesn't help to dispel this negative impression.
To make matters worse, both of the OHA Employees have also run for a seat in past OHA Board of Trustees elections, giving them more name recognition in the Hawaiian community than candidates who have never run in a Hawaiian election.
I believe that Na'i Aupuni should have just done what the state election office has been doing all along - list the candidate names in alphabetical order. Voters are used to seeing candidate names listed alphabetically and it would make it easier for them to find the candidates they support, especially since Oahu voters had to sort through an incredible 103 candidates!
They should have also made it easier for Oahu voters by breaking up the island into smaller sections (such as rural and urban Oahu) with fewer names, Voters on Oahu needed a lot of time and stamina to search through all those names.
l am surprised that Na'i Aupuni would turn to such a radically different voting process than what Hawaii voters are used to for such a historically important election. There was already a high level of scrutiny regarding the integrity of the election and I believe they should have stuck with what works. Instead, they just added to the confusion.
If you have any questions or concerns regarding the voting process, please contact Elections America at firstname.lastname@example.org or call Elections America toll-free at (844) 413-2929.
Aloha Ke Akua
PDF: Oahu Ballot (OHA employees at top of left column: Christopher Lum-Lee and Kuhio Lewis)