Tuesday, September 28, 2010
Followup – Elections Commission complaint
by Larry Geller
Lucky I noticed that my complaint to the Elections Commission was on today’s agenda. They never responded to the complaint. Anyway, I was there and spoke during the public comment period.
Bottom line: probably no action.
I emphasized that my complaint was based on inaction by the Chief Elections Officer on a Maui resident’s complaint alleging that Sen. Bobby Bunda did not actually resign before filing for election papers. My complaint was not about the resignation, it’s too late for that. I held that the CEO should have forwarded the matter to the court based on the Maui complaint. I was requesting the Commission look into possible wrongdoing on the part of the CEO which had the effect of assisting Bunda’s campaign.
My impression was that some of the committee members understood this, but discussion kept coming back to the question of resignation. With regard to the resignation, I pointed out that a letter of intent to resign was not the same as a resignation.
For example, if I send a letter to First Hawaiian Bank saying that I intend to rob a bank on Wednesday but I never do, they may get me for something, but not for robbing a bank. If I tell the teacher I intend to turn in my homework on Friday but I never do, it’s not the same as if I turned in my homework.
The Chief Elections Officer said that he checked with the Senate Clerk’s office and they said he resigned.
True, as someone said, there was no evidence that Bunda did not resign. True, I countered, there seemed to be no evidence that he did. Plus there’s that curious letter of resignation dated July 16 and addressed to the CEO which turned up at the Senate President’s office in August. Bunda did not work for the Office of Elections, he worked for the Senate.
At the conclusion of the agenda item the Commission took a couple of votes, finally voting against action 4-3. The Chair said they could take the matter up in executive session, but they were informed that they can’t just take anything they wish into executive session.
So most likely, that ends it.
There are often problems with elections, given the complexity of the process, and this is not the greatest challenge the Office of Elections had this year. They started without money to mount the 2010 elections when the Governor cut their budget 94% in late 2009. Yet they successfully came back from that and pulled it off. I think they did a great job.
While we have election laws for good purpose and I don’t think it’s ok to ignore them, especially since in our democracy our vote is about all we have left, it’s time to drop this.
It occurs to me that, without any definition- or even ad rule- of what constitues resignation, the whole resign to run law may be unconstitutionally vague.
In this electronic age - surely the incumbent could post their resignation, and leave it at that. What is with all this paper?