Lawmakers mull elections reform bills, including automatic recounts

Updated: Mar. 6, 2019 at 5:32 PM HST
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HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Lawmakers in both houses of the Hawaii state legislature appear ready to approve a proposal which would institute automatic recounts in closely-contested elections.

The legislation, which will require a constitutional amendment approved by voters, was pushed forward at the Capitol as a reaction to the state Supreme Court being thrust into action following the 2018 general election.

The court invalidated the results of a City Council race, saying ballots that were collected after 6 p.m. shouldn’t have been counted — which made the 22-vote margin in the race between incumbent Trevor Ozawa and challenger Tommy Waters too close to call.

At a press conference on Wednesday, the Speaker of the state House said the court should have allowed the results to stand.

"The Supreme Court's decision was based on a technicality, and I think the Supreme Court went too far," said Rep. Scott Saiki.

"I think it makes it very obvious we need to have a way to resolve these elections pretty quickly, and it shouldn't really take intervention by our state Supreme Court to do that," added Janet Mason, a member of the League of Women Voters.

There are also proposals still alive this session that would mandate elections be held by mail and automatically register voters who apply for state I.D. cards or driver’s licenses.

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