The Hawaii Supreme Court today ordered election officials to provide more specific answers over the handling of ballots cast in November’s general election that gave Trevor Ozawa a 22-vote victory over Tommy Waters for the East Honolulu seat on the Honolulu City Council.
Waters is challenging the election results, leaving the Council at a standstill from conducting regular business because of the deadlock between two factions of the current eight-member panel, each with four members.
On Dec. 31 the state Office of Elections issued a lengthy response answering questions from an initial order from the high court, but the justices had more questions.
In its two-page order today, the court said it is giving election officials until the end of day Wednesday to answer the specific question of whether “any mail-in absentee return envelopes received, collected, or ‘swept’ by the United States Postal Service after 6:00 p.m. on November 6, 2018 were set aside and not counted in accordance with law, and whether any absentee mail-in return envelopes received, collected or ‘swept’ by the United States Postal Service after 6:00 p.m. on November 6, 2018 were not set aside and subsequently counted.”
Ballots picked up after 6 p.m. on Election Day were one of the issues raised by Waters in his complaint. Waters has said he believes any ballots collected by city or state election officials after 6 p.m. should have not been counted.
Honolulu elections officials, in its court filing, said that as in past elections, ballots were collected by the USPS by 6 p.m. They were then collected and counted later.
A similar challenge to the Ozawa-Waters results was filed by a group of East Honolulu voters. The Supreme Court today also issued the same order in that challenge.