Thursday, October 31, 2013


Hawaii legislature receives suspect testimony, including apparently from a 1-year old, on marriage equality bill

by Larry Geller

All’s fair in war, if not in love, it seems. The battle has been joined this week at the Hawaii State Capitol, and it seems that most anything goes.

For process wonks, here’s some more on the  testimony counts for SB1. The analysis refers to the main article, here, that reported the actual vote spread is only about 4% between supporters and opponents, and not the 60/40 split reported in the media.

For any bill moving through the Legislature, it’s not unusual for an interest group to mobilize its members to submit testimony. Sometimes that means members just carbon-copy a form, sign it and send it in. Legislators are normally onto this, so that kind of testimony may be counted, but is certainly not read. With so much testimony coming in on this one bill, and perhaps no one working on the duplicate issue, the opportunity to stuff the ballot box is real.

The reported count of supporters/opponents of SB1 has attracted attention, and it’s not clear that the numbers are accurate. Here are more observations from Disappeared News’ astute volunteer who has been monitoring the testimony and the lege’s treatment of it. Check out the second paragraph, it’s a doozy. And so is the observation that a 1-year old has managed to send in testimony that was included! Well, the precocious youngster needed some help from a parent to send in the email.

Comments on methodology are included.

- The testimonies were not organized chronologically but rather, in many instances, segregated by pro and against and then alphabetically by the persons from name.

- One individual wrote two testimonies one about why same-sex marriage is against Chinese tradition and one more general opposition, signed each twice but submitted it over 30 times.

- Several Catholic Churches had their members sign pre-printed cards "I attend mass at (blank) and I want the definition of marriage to stay the same...." but some parishioners  also submitted electronic testimony separately.

- An affiliate of the Mormon Church in Laie had a WordPress interface testimony submittal for opposing the special session. A number of individuals also submitted separate testimony opposing the bill and/or LGBT people and/or same-sex marriage separately (Their anti-special session testimony was zeroed out in favor of counting their opposition to same-sex marriage.)

- It appears two different pro same-sex marriage websites were helping people submit testimony and some people (not more than 2 or 3 dozen) submitted testimony on both websites. There were also a handful of written testimonies collected on neighbor islands that the person then submitted electronic testimony separately.

- Some people seemed to click submit or send twice (or several times). If an individuals testimony appears to have occurred in that fashion, all "repeat" testimony (with time stamps seconds apart) were not counted in the raw data. That is, if the identical testimony by the same person appeared next to each other three or four times and the time stamp shows a difference of a few seconds on each one, the doubles were omitted from the raw data. It appears that people against same-sex marriage as a group seem to have more difficulty with this double clicking problem than the same-sex marriage people.

- There were a number of instances where it appears a parent, using the same e-mail address, repeatedly sent in testimony against same-sex marriage but changed the name of the person at the end of the testimony to the names of their children (including one identified as 1 year old). To avoid any issues of undercounting, each testimony although identical and coming from the same e-mail address was counted separately. This was exclusively an issue with those against same-sex marriage.

- Testimony was accepted by the Committee from multiple capitol e-mail addresses and as forwards from legislators in the House, etc. This sometimes caused a testimony that was e-mailed to several capitol addresses to be submitted several times.



At least that family's dog or cat didn't try to send in testimony. They probably didn't think of it.

testimony submitted by: Haunani Jones (

p342 (Part 3) Haunani K. Jones
p997 (Part 6) "Keawa'iki Jones-Age 9"
p999 (Part 6) "Kingston Jones-Age 11"
p1027 (Part 6) "Ko'iaweikawaihu'ihu'iowaihe'e Jones-Age 1"
p1155 (Part 6) Haunani K. Jones

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