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Thursday, August 14, 2014
Judge Rejects Lawsuit To Delay Puna Voting--Polls Open Fri 7AM
By Robert Thomas @ 4:27 PM :: 8505 Views :: Hawaii County , Office of Elections, Politicians

Too Soon? Lawsuit To Delay The Delayed Puna Precincts Primary Filed

UPDATE: Judge rejects move to postpone makeup election -- Polls to open Friday at Keonepoko Elem School in Puna at 7 a.m.

by Robert Thomas, InverseCondemnation, August 13, 2014

To follow up on our earlier post about issues to look for in the legal challenge to the Hawaii Chief Elections Officer's choice to hold the delayed Democratic Party primary election on Friday, August 15, 2014, rather than keep the 21-day window open, here are the Complaint and Motion for Temporary Restraining Order filed this morning in the circuit (trial) court on the Big Island. As we suspected might be the case, the Hawaii Supreme Court's original jurisdiction to hear election contests was not invoked, since the relief sought by the complaint is to stop Friday's planned election, and delay it to some other time.

You can read the documents themselves (thank you, Honolulu Civil Beat, for posting them), but here is the short version:

  • The plaintiff is Democrat Colleen Hanabusa, a candidate for the Democratic Party's nomination as U.S. Senator. There are two claims for relief:
  • The first is a federal civil rights claim under the (Anti-) Ku Klux Klan Act of 1871 (also known as 42 U.S.C. § 1983), which can be invoked any time a person is alleged to have deprived the plaintiff of their federal rights under "color of state law." The federal rights which "Plaintiff and the voters" allegedly possess are "their rights with respect to voting as guarantee by the First and Fourteenth Amendments to the United States Constitution and 42 U.S.C. § 1971."
  • The second claim is under state law: article 1, section 8 of the Hawaii Constitution ("No citizen shall be disfranchised, or deprived of any of the rights or privileges secured to other citizens, unless by the law of the land.").
  • Relief sought: stop the Chief Election Officer from holding the postponed election in the two Puna precincts on August 15, 2014. That's it. 
  • The motion for preliminary injunction asserts that holding the postponed election on Friday is just too soon, essentially because the two precincts are still a mess. Besides, the motion asserts, there's no harm in waiting just a bit longer since we have up to 21 days to have a postponed election. 
  • One issue we predict: whether the plaintiff has standing to assert the claims asserted. Assuming that everything the complaint says is true, she's not a Puna voter and won't be disenfranchised or suffer an injury to the voting rights alleged, except in a secondary way (I might not get more votes if the election is held on Friday). Hawaii state courts have pretty relaxed standing requirements (the need for the plaintiff to have suffered the injury alleged), but last time we checked, you still don't have standing to allege that someone else was injured. We wonder why at least one Puna registered voter was not named as a plaintiff.
  • As usual, we have more questions than answers, but we'll probably know more once the Elections Officer responds.

PDF: Complaint for Restraining Order

PDF: Hanabusa's Civil Motion for Temporary Restraining Order

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