In the latest fallout from the Hawaii County Election Office woes on Primary Day, August 11, Kalei Akaka has filed a formal challenge to the results of the Democratic Primary for State House District 6. Akaka, 29, and the daughter of kumu Danny Akaka Jr. and Anna Akaka and the granddaughter of Senator Daniel Akaka, came in second to Nicole Lowen in that race for the Democratic nomination. The winner of the race faces Republican Roy Ebert in November.
Akaka’s attorney is Charles Khim of Honolulu, who filed the motion with the State Supreme Court. Akaka’s contention is that the numerous voting irregularities and late opening of polling places within the District 6 area mean that the vote should be redone, or at a minimum, there should be a recount. The State Office of Elections says there is no provision in the Hawaii State Constitution for an automatic recount, but on election night, they do double counts of races that appear to be close.
Akaka said that Hawaii Island citizens were not provided with a proper and fair election process. There were two late-opening polling locations in District 6, Kona Palisades Community Center and Kahakai School, and voters were turned away. There is no way to know if those people came back to vote, nor for whom they would have voted. There have also been reports of “issues” with absentee mail in ballots, including reports from some County Council members that the County Office of Elections did not count ballots if the envelope had tape to seal the envelopes.
In the Primary, Lowen got 1067 votes and Akaka 1022, a difference of only 45. Bucky Leslie got 734, and Fred Housel got 461. There were 243 blank votes and 2 “over” votes, where people voted for two candidates.
Lorraine Rodero Inouye had considered filing a challenge but decided not to. She had come in just 67 votes behind incumbent Senator Malama Solomon for the Democratic Nomination for State Senate District 4 out of a total of around 8,000 votes cast. But she said the burden of proof, figuring out how many voters were turned away and for whom they would have voted, was too great.
Monday, Danny Akaka Jr. sat through the entire County Council meeting and heard County Clerk Jamae Kawauchi’s report of what went wrong on Primary Election Day. At that time he said the family was still reviewing the facts. The deadline for filing challenges was Tuesday.