Monday, August 30, 2010


Hawaii election anomolies

by Larry Geller

Attorney Lance Collins has carved out a niche as the attorney to go to when Hawaii’s election laws need defending.

Last year he successfully argued for plaintiffs in Babson v. Cronin that the Office of Elections did not have administrative rules in place to allow voting computers to transmit election data over the telephone line or the Internet. Behind the action was the realization that these machines could be subject to “man in the middle” attacks. The Office of Elections was making up procedures outside of the process required by law.

The lawsuit resulted in the drafting and approval of a whole new set of administrative rules governing how the machines may be used.

Here’s an update on recent actions both handled by attorney Collins.

Challenge to Maui County Council Chairman Danny Mateo

Lahaina voter Nellie Laird-Woods filed a petition in Second Circuit Court on Friday seeking to disqualify the nomination papers of Maui County Council Chairman Danny Mateo.

Under the Maui County Charter, Council members may not serve more than five full consecutive terms in office. Ms. Laird-Woods points out that if elected to another term, Mateo will have served more than five full consecutive terms in office.

This was just filed, and so should be set for a hearing soon.

Challenge to Sen. Bobby Bunda’s nomination papers

You’ll recall that Maui resident Michael Howden filed a challenge to the nomination papers of Senator Robert Bunda, holding that Bunda had not in fact resigned from the Senate. In response to my request for public documents, both the Senate Clerk and the Office of Elections provided copies of a letter dated July 14 in which Bunda stated his intent to resign, but there was no letter of resignation.

The Office of Elections did not agree, and did not forward the challenge to Circuit Court by the deadline last week. A letter dated August 13 was not received by Mr. Howden until about two weeks later. Why? The delay obviously impacts the complainant’s ability to decide on and to initiate any further action. Also, the letter states:

We have confirmed with the Hawaii State Senate Clerk’s Office that Mr. Bunda had resigned on July 16, 2010 prior to filing his nomination papers on July 19, 2010.

If so, why could neither the Office of Elections nor the Senate Clerk produce a letter of resignation for Bunda (they had one for Hooser).

Meanwhile, my request to Senate President Colleen Hanabusa for Bunda’s letter of resignation went unanswered. I called over to her office last week, well after the 10 working day response deadline had passed, to find out what was happening with my request. There was no response to that, either. So I requested assistance from the Office of Information Practices, which today wrote to Senator Hanabusa citing the requirement that she respond to my request for public records. If you’re curious about what one of those letters look like, you can read it here.

I shouldn’t speculate on why Hanabusa is putting off her reply, but perhaps it is merely an oversight, perhaps she can’t find the papers, or, of course, perhaps she doesn’t have an actual letter of resignation from Bunda. Regardless, she must reply to the request. The OIP letter gives her five more days to respond.

However, the Maui resident has meanwhile decided not to pursue the challenge.

So what will become of Bunda’s campaign? Probably it will go forward, since there is no longer a challenge.

Still, if you find yourself at a candidate’s forum and can ask questions, why not ask Bunda where is his letter of resignation. One could ask Sen. Hanabusa why she won’t release her copy as well, if there’s an opportunity.

This isn’t like the Obama “birthers” who doggedly hound the Dept. of Health for a birth certificate which is actually on file. This is the opposite. So far, the only letter produced is one expressing an intent to resign. That’s not what the state Constitution calls for, as far as I can tell. I’m no expert, but it seems to me there ought to be a letter.


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