Candidates could challenge primary election results

Electronic voting machines in Puna precinct polling place
Electronic voting machines in Puna precinct polling place

With as little as a few hundred votes separating some of the primary races, there’s some hope for losing candidates before November’s General Election.

We spoke with an attorney who specializes in election law.

“The most obvious approach is what’s called an election contest and that’s very unusual circumstance where you would go straight to the Hawaii Supreme Court,” said attorney Robert Thomas.

Candidates would have until this Thursday to file a complaint. The Supreme Court would then have four days to make a ruling.

For Congresswoman Hanabusa, there are other options. On Thursday, a judge denied Hanabusa’s temporary restraining order to postpone the Puna elections until a later date, claiming residents needed more time.

“So there’s always, of course, perhaps, the option of appealing the judge’s ruling from the Big Island on Thursday because he said the election could go forward, but now maybe depending, they can always appeal that,” Thomas said.

A third option would be for Puna residents to join Hanabusa’s existing lawsuit or file one on their own.

“So maybe there’s enough people who want to come forward and claim that they couldn’t vote because they didn’t know about the election, they knew about it too late, they couldn’t get there on time,” Thomas said.

It would be up to a judge to decide the remedy for the voters who might feel cheated.

“What would you do? Declare the thing null and void and start all over again? Extend the deadline further? Allow extra voting? All those sort of things,” Thomas said.

But even if candidates take legal action, is there enough time before Nov. 4?

“My guess is that anything that happens will be resolved relatively quickly compared to most court actions, which can drag on,” Thomas said.

There’s no word yet on what the candidates will do, if anything at all.

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