Saturday, December 12, 2009
Special election in jeopardy due to governor’s cut of elections budget by 94%
by Larry Geller
Both the Advertiser and the Star-Bulletin carried stories this morning questioning the state’s readiness to hold a special election to fill the seat of Representative Neil Abercrombie after he steps down.
While both noted that the elections office is strapped for funds, neither story attributed the shortfall to a 94% cut in the Office of Elections budget by Governor Linda Lingle. This was confirmed by Chief Elections Officer Kevin Cronin during a hearing of the Elections Commission last week. Cronin confirmed that the budget cut was approximately 94%, leaving the office understaffed and without operating funds.
How or if a special election can be held are questions that rest squarely with the Governor, since only she controls the purse strings.
The Legislature cannot restore funds for the election any more than they could restore funds to the Department of Education to eliminate Furlough Fridays. Whatever the Legislature apportions can be (and frequently is) simply withheld by the Governor.
To be clear, then, the Lege appropriated funds and the Governor will only release 6% of that amount? Or is it that the Governor's budget proposed a 94% reduction and the budget ultimately passed by the Lege accepted that cut?
See: Administration cuts put Hawaii 2010 elections in jeopardy. The budget was cut in July I think, along with other state agency budget cuts.
I think its time to announce that with all these problems, someone should pay me to vote. About 2 months of my mortgage will do but they still can't tell me who to vote for. In fact I can go into the booth and vote for 1 person for 1 seat and be done with it. It will save a lot of time for everybody and my friends won't have to put up with my complainin' about the candidates...
Huh? Well, now I'm really confused, Larry. If there were only $14K available in mid-July 2009 (which was part of the current fiscal year), then how do you explain the $3.8M in general funds and $7.4M in federal funds that were appropriated in the FY 2009-2010 Executive Budget? (search for the word "elections" in that document to see the appropriations and proviso language)
Something does not add up. Cronin spent (and/or Lingle restricted) over $10M in a matter of weeks?! Maybe, but I highly doubt that.
The $3.8 million was only for voting machines. The lege said it could only be used for that purpose. Indeed, one option that the lege has is to change the law to make a portion of that available, which is very likely to happen.
But even if they lift the proviso, the Governor does not have to give the money to the Office of Elections. So in the end, it is still up to the Governor.
I'm not sure about the $7.4 million in federal funds, will have to check on what that was.
Actually, the proviso language says that only $2.8M of the $3.8M of general funds must be set aside for voting machines.
Scrap the voting machines and have an election by paper.
Canʻt afford those rigged machines.
If it was lingle running again thereʻd be enough.