Column: Hawaii’s high legal standard for election recount unrealistic
Hawaii is not among 20 other states that hold automatic recounts in cases of a thin margin between the top two candidates.
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Hawaii is not among 20 other states that hold automatic recounts in cases of a thin margin between the top two candidates. In the instance of my recent candidacy for state Senate District 19, it was a difference of 116 votes. For the many valid reasons highlighted by good government watchers, I asked for a recount, however, knowing that it would be rejected because of the mentioned “high legal bar.”
This is, unfortunately, a fact of law in Hawaii that does not allow us to err on the side of caution as the other 20 states do.
The state Supreme Court is just doing its job by enforcing a plain interpretation of the law, but my larger point in the complaint was that the law itself is unconstitutional because under this interpretation, no one can ever practically reach the very bar that is set for the sole purpose of ensuring free and fair elections by allowing for challenges in the form of investigations or recounts for close election results.
In order to be granted a recount, one must essentially prove in the complaint alone that one would win a recount; in order for there to be a proper independent investigation of potential wrongdoing, one must prove in the complaint actual wrongdoing, the sort of which would only ever be realistically provable by an independent investigation. These standards are, of course, absurd. If we are all in practice denied our most fundamental rights, then we are in truth denied these rights and the law is therefore unconstitutional. It is a flawed system that must be remedied.
Speaking of flaws, I have a few of my own — so take this opportunity to at least explain my actions as to what drove me to take my opponent’s campaign flyer off a house door prior to the primary election.
Minutes before that video was taken, a man who lives in the area was following me as I was walking away from him, yelling and hollering obscenities at me in the course of my canvassing the neighborhood. He grabbed a flyer out of my hand and tore up a picture of my wife and children just inches from my face.
It was a culmination of these and related events that fueled me to react the way I did and take my opponent’s flyer in a moment of self-indulgence and diverted aggression. As I have previously stated, I immediately regretted my actions, returned the flyer minutes later, and attempted to apologize that day.
A margin of at least 116 out of more than 12,000 (0.9 percent) people weighed my one recorded faltering moment against my record of four years as a state representative — enough to swing the election in such a close race.
I am not proud of my actions that day, but I am proud of my record of public service and thank the nearly half of the voters of Ewa for still believing in me despite my moment of weakness.
Despite our contentious campaign battles, I wish Kurt Fevella well as our state senator. Our community has many needs, so I hope he will bring attention and success to Ewa Beach.