Hawaii Supreme Court skeptical of Office of Elections

Law blogger Robert Thomas (www.inversecondemnation.com) took a listen to the recorded arguments before the Hawaii Supreme Court last week in the case stemming from the ballot confusion during the 2012 General Election, and reported his impressions. His post also includes links to the official recording of the oral arguments available online.

I wrote a brief post about the case several days ago.

The court’s grilling of the attorney representing the State Office of Elections turned into what Thomas called “a judicial feeding frenzy.”

The agency’s arguments may have satisfied the ICA, but as a listen to the recording after the 31:30 mark reveals, they were the like blood in the water at the Supreme Court. The immediate onslaught of questions, incredulity, and downright scorn directed from the bench towards the agency’s counsel was as close to a feeding frenzy as you might witness in the usually decorous air of the state’s high court. No doubt, a very long half-hour-plus for the Election Office’s advocate. It began when Justice Pollack interrupted her opening confessional and promise “to do better in the future” with an obvious question: “Well how are we going to do better? I mean, it looks like to me the same thing could happen again.” She had no answer to that question, either for Justice Pollack or in response to the similar questions the other justices continued to hurl her way.

If you’re at all interested in this election issue, you should check Thomas’ post.

Given the nature and tone of the questioning, Thomas sees little chance the justices will side with the Office of Elections and allow them to proceed with in-house fixes.

More likely, he says, that the court will order the agency to adopt rules to cover such matters.

The unanswered question: “What will the court order the agency to do, and how detailed will it get?”

Attorney Lance Collins, who represents the plaintiffs in the case, contacted me to clarify one point.

“I also wanted to mention that none of the individual voter Plaintiffs are Green Party members,” Collins wrote. “They are either Democrats or independents from all over the state, Kauai, Oahu, Molokai, Maui and the Big Island.”

He also shared additional documents from the case, including the opening brief filed in the case before the Intermediate Court of Appeals, along with the state’s answering brief and the plaintiff’s reply brief. Collins says these documents lay out the underlying arguments that are referred to in the pending Supreme Court appeal.

I hope those links work properly. If not, leave a comment and I’ll make necessary fixes.

A short visit with the Kaaawa Canines

Duck and MonkeyWe walked the beach in Kaaawa on Sunday morning and visited with many of the dogs we know across the neighborhood, courtesy of friends who invited us to dinner and to spend the night just a block or so from our former home.

This time, quite a few of our canine friends were outside and happy to see us again. This is Duck, on the left, and Monkey. We used to bring Duck a doggie treat every time we saw him, and although we arrived yesterday empty handed, he didn’t seem to mind too much. Monkey was rescued just after we moved from Kaaawa, but he was just as excited to have a chance to say hello and collect some pets from us.

I count 16 dogs that made it into the morning’s photos, and there were a few that we missed along the way.

–> See more of Sunday’s Kaaawa Morning Dogs

Early 20th Century map shows location of the “Sunny South”

Buried down towards the bottom of my post a few days ago about the box of old records was a story my mother told about her grandfather, Robert William Cathcart, and some of his encounters in the late 1800s at a spot known as the Sunny South.

Here’s a brief excerpt to set the scene:

There were quite a few British subjects living in Honolulu when Robert W. Cathcart arrived in 1881, so it didn’t take him long to meet others from the British Isles. One with whom he became friendly was Major Hills, a former British army officer who had lived in Tahiti where he married a Tahitian woman. The Hills lived in the Waikiki area where they operated a soft-drink bottling company on Kalakaua Avenue mauka of what is now Kapiolani Boulevard. They called their premises “Sunny South” where every Sunday a group of their associates gathered for a day of pleasant relaxation.

I was very surprised to then receive an email from a prominent local real estate lawyer.

He wrote:

Your mention of Sunny South in a recent blog rang a bell. I remembered an old map of Honolulu copyrighted in 1912 by Charles V. E. Dove. I have scanned a small portion of it and have attached the scan. Sunny South is located just mauka of the then-proposed Ala Wai Canal. The streets depicted as dashed lines didn’t get built quite where shown. The arc crossing King, Kalakaua and Ala Moana before ending at sea seems to be a measure of two miles from the main post office.

Thought you might be interested.

The map confirms my mom’s version of approximately where the Sunny South was located.

I thought this was very cool, and so decided to share it.

Here’s the scan of the old map (click to see a larger version):

Early 20th Century map

Saturday morning: Dogs and a rainbow

Yes, there was a bit of light rain that swept past during our walk this morning. Not enough to disrupt the walk, but enough to produce a great rainbow! That’s Meda with our friend, Karen, and her dogs, in the featured photo, below.

It was also a good morning for photos of some of our regular Kahala morning dogs.

Just click on the photo below to see all of today’s pictures.

May 21, 2016

Hawaii Supreme Court hears case involving 2012 ballot problems

The Hawaii Supreme Court heard oral arguments this week in a case that stems from problems with the delivery and handling of ballots in the 2012 General Election by the state Office of Elections.

The case touches on both election law, and the rule-making requirements of Hawaii’s Administrative Procedures Act.

Law blogger Robert Thomas observed that it isn’t clear which set of issues triggered the Supreme Court’s decision to review the case.

Maui attorney Lance Collins filed suit against the state Office of Elections on behalf of the Green Party of Hawaii and several individuals as a result of the 2012 election problems. The plaintiffs argue that the Office of Elections should be required to adopt rules to cover the kinds of situations experienced in 2012.

The plaintiffs lost in proceedings in the Second Circuit Court, and that court ruling was upheld by the Intermediate Court of Appeals.

The Supreme Court was then asked to overturn those prior rulings. Its decision is pending.

Here’s a description of the election problems from the ICA decision:

This case arose out of the 2012 General Election. It is undisputed that mistakes were made. There was a shortage of paper ballots in English at a number of precincts across the State. In addition, when reserve ballots were sent out to the
polling places, there was a mix up of the ballots sent to two locations; this resulted in 57 voters casting votes on incorrect ballots. It appears, however, that: all voters in line at the close of voting received the opportunity to vote; if English language paper ballots were not immediately available at a particular polling place, voters could vote at an electronic voting machine or on an alternative language paper ballot; every voter who signed a precinct book cast a ballot; every voter who voted on the wrong paper ballot had his or her vote counted in every race in which he or she was entitled to vote; and, none of
the races that could have been impacted by the ballot mix-up were close enough to have been affected. Nevertheless, as widely acknowledged, Appellees’ execution of the 2012 General Election fell short of the electorate’s reasonable expectations.

It was in response to those problems that the Green Party plaintiffs filed suit, seeking to force the Office of Elections to formally adopt rules to govern its procedures.

Here’s a description of the issues from the Judiciary website:

This case involves an action by the Green Party of Hawaii and seven registered voters who voted in the 2012 General Election (Petitioners) seeking a declaratory judgment pursuant to HRS § 91-7 (2012) that certain methodologies and procedures used by Scott Nago, Chief Election Officer, and the State of Hawai`i (collectively “Respondents”) in the 2012 election are invalid under the Hawai?i Administrative Procedure Act (HAPA). Specifically, Petitioners contend that Respondents violated rule-making requirements for failing to adopt administrative rules pursuant to HAPA regarding the methodology and procedures used to determine the number of ballots to be delivered to the precincts, request additional ballots when a precinct runs out of paper ballots, and address the situation where a voter votes on a ballot that includes some races in which the voter is not entitled to vote.

I haven’t had time to listen to the recording of the Supreme Court session, which is available here.

Other background:

Decision of the Intermediate Court of Appeals

Plaintiff’s pplication to the Supreme Court

State’s response in opposition

Green Party reply to the state