Monday, November 28, 2022
Hawai'i Free Press

Current Articles | Archives

Friday, September 9, 2022
Judge: Former Residents May not Vote in Hawaii Elections
By Court House News @ 3:56 AM :: 767 Views :: National News, Office of Elections

Former Hawaii residents now living in US territories barred from voting in federal elections

Allowing voters living in U.S. territories to vote absentee in states they used to live in would give them outsized voting rights compared to fellow residents, a federal judge found.

by Candace Cheung, Court House News, September 7, 2022

HONOLULU (CN) — A federal judge in Hawaii ruled Tuesday that prior residence in Hawaii doesn't give U.S. citizens the right to cast absentee ballots for the state in federal elections.

“This case is not about the denial or deprivation of the right to vote, but about whether a failure to extend voting rights that do not otherwise exist violates the Equal Protection Clause. The statutes are not unconstitutional merely because they do not grant plaintiffs a right given to others, especially when plaintiffs’ fellow territorial residents lack such a right,” Otake wrote in the ruling.

The case was first brought against the United States and the state of Hawaii two years ago, one month before the 2020 presidential elections. The plaintiffs claimed the Uniformed and Overseas Citizens Absentee Voting Act (UOCAVA) and Hawaii’s corresponding Uniform Military and Overseas Voters Act (UMOVA) unconstitutionally contribute to the disenfranchisement of residents in the territories of Guam, the U.S. Virgin Islands, Puerto Rico and American Samoa.

Although residents of U.S. territories can vote in primary elections, they are barred from voting in the general presidential and congressional elections. Activists have long decried the situation, pointing out that while residents can't have their voices heard, territories are still subject to the results of these elections.

The plaintiffs, represented by an international team of attorneys, moved for summary judgment in August, with both federal and state defendants countering. The suit named Hawaii Chief Election Officer Scott Nago, the United States of America, the secretary of Defense, and the Federal Voting Assistance Program and its director David Beirne, as defendants.

The five plaintiffs, all former residents of Hawaii who now live in territories of the United States, originally contended that their right to vote had been unfairly denied due to their current living situations, whereas the voting rights of U.S. citizens living abroad or in the Northern Mariana Islands were intact. The plaintiffs currently reside in either Guam or the U.S. Virgin Islands. Equally American, an organization for the civil rights of territory residents, rounds out the plaintiffs.

Most of the plaintiffs’ tenure in Hawaii occurred decades ago as part of military stationing and were usually brief stays — in one case, only for a year.

The UOCAVA and UMOVA statutes are meant to restore the ability to vote to U.S. citizens living in other countries, many of them military who would otherwise have wholly lost the right to vote. The plaintiffs, however, are registered voters in Guam and the Virgin Islands.

U.S. District Judge Jill A. Otake, at the summary judgment hearing and in her ruling Tuesday, noted that although the plaintiffs raise fair points about the limitations on voting rights for those living in the U.S. territories, “plaintiffs’ continued efforts to transform this issue into one concerning territorial voting rights is misguided and ineffective,” she wrote.

Otake rejected the plaintiffs' claims that the UOCAVA and UMOVA violate the Fifth and 14th Amendments. She found former residents of Hawaii who live in territories cannot be considered a protected class and that U.S. citizens living in territories do not have a superseding right to vote in federal elections.

“UOCAVA and UMOVA in fact treat plaintiffs the same as former state residents who move to another state or the District of Columbia, so the actual disparity is nothing close to Plaintiffs’ dramatic portrayal,” she wrote.

The federal and state defendants cited concerns that conveying the right to vote in absentee to former residents of a state would give those residents outsized voting rights, compared to other territorial residents who cannot claim former residency in one of the 50 states. Otake wrote that the creation of this sort of ‘super citizen’ would lead to wealth-based inequity to voting access that could have distinct effects on the results of elections.

"The concern over creating "super-citizens" is perplexing - all our plaintiffs are asking is to enjoy the same right to vote for President that any other citizen enjoys who moves outside the 50 states. The problem now - and the reason for our lawsuit - is that they are being treated as second-class citizens simply because of where they now live," said Neil Weare, attorney for the plaintiffs and president of Equally American.

"Bottom line, where you live shouldn't affect your right to vote," he said.

Representatives for the state and federal defendants could not be reached immediately.

---30---

GPDN: Former Hawaii residents lose territorial voting rights case

Links

TEXT "follow HawaiiFreePress" to 40404

Register to Vote

2aHawaii

808 Silent Majority

ACA Signups Hawaii

Alliance Defending Freedom

Aloha Pregnancy Care Center

American Council of Trustees and Alumni

AntiPlanner

Antonio Gramsci Reading List

A Place for Women in Waipio

Astronomy Hawaii

Back da Blue Hawaii

Ballotpedia Hawaii

Better Hawaii

Broken Trust

Build More Hawaiian Homes Working Group

ChinaTownWatch.com

Christian Homeschoolers of Hawaii

Cliff Slater's Second Opinion

DVids Hawaii

FIRE

Fix Oahu!

Frontline: The Fixers

Genetic Literacy Project

Grassroot Institute

Habele.org

Hawaii Aquarium Fish Report

Hawaii Aviation Preservation Society

Hawaii Catholic TV

Hawaii Christian Coalition

Hawaii Cigar Association

Hawaii Coalition Against Legalized Gambling

Hawaii ConCon Info

Hawaii Credit Union Watch

Hawaii Crop Improvement Association

Hawaii Debt Clock

Hawaii Defense Foundation

Hawaii Family Forum

Hawaii Farmers and Ranchers United

Hawaii Farmer's Daughter

Hawaii Federalist Society

Hawaii Federation of Republican Women

Hawaii Future Project

Hawaii Gathering of Eagles

Hawaii History Blog

Hawaii Homeschool Association

Hawaii Jihadi Trial

Hawaii Legal News

Hawaii Legal Short-Term Rental Alliance

Hawaii Life Alliance

Hawaii March for Life 

Hawaii Matters

Hawaii's Partnership for Appropriate & Compassionate Care

Hawaii Public Charter School Network

Hawaii Rifle Association

Hawaii Shippers Council

Hawaii Smokers Alliance

Hawaii State Data Lab

Hawaii Together

HIEC.Coop

HiFiCo

Hiram Fong Papers

Homeschool Legal Defense Hawaii

Honolulu Navy League

Honolulu Traffic

House Minority Blog

Imua TMT

Inouye-Kwock, NYT 1992

Inside the Nature Conservancy

Inverse Condemnation

Investigative Project on Terrorism

July 4 in Hawaii

Kakaako Cares

Keep Hawaii's Heroes

Land and Power in Hawaii

Legislative Committee Analysis Tool

Lessons in Firearm Education

Lingle Years

Malulani Foundation

Managed Care Matters -- Hawaii

Malama Pregnancy Center of Maui

Mauna Kea Recreational Users Group

MentalIllnessPolicy.org

Military Home Educators' Network Oahu

Missile Defense Advocacy

MIS Veterans Hawaii

NAMI Hawaii

Natatorium.org

National Christian Foundation Hawaii

National Parents Org Hawaii

NFIB Hawaii News

No GMO Means No Aloha

Not Dead Yet, Hawaii

NRA-ILA Hawaii

Oahu Alternative Transport

Obookiah

OHA Lies

Opt Out Today

OurFutureHawaii.com

Patients Rights Council Hawaii

PEACE Hawaii

People vs Machine

Pritchett Cartoons

Pro-GMO Hawaii

P.U.E.O.

RailRipoff.com

Rental by Owner Awareness Assn

ReRoute the Rail

Research Institute for Hawaii USA

Rick Hamada Show

RJ Rummel

Robotics Organizing Committee

Save Dillingham Airfield

School Choice in Hawaii

SenatorFong.com

Sink the Jones Act

Statehood for Guam

Talking Tax

Tax Foundation of Hawaii

The Real Hanabusa

Time Out Honolulu

Trustee Akina KWO Columns

UCC Truths

US Tax Foundation Hawaii Info

VAREP Honolulu

Waagey.org

West Maui Taxpayers Association

What Natalie Thinks

Whole Life Hawaii

Yes2TMT