HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Days after a U.S. Supreme Court justice issued a temporary stay blocking the counting of votes in an election for Native Hawaiians, the deadline will be extended to December 21, Na'i Aupuni announced in a news release Monday.
"Because voters may not have cast their ballots over concerns and questions on the recent U.S. Supreme Court's – SCOTUS -- decision to temporarily stop the vote count, we are extending the voting deadline to December 21, midnight Hawaii time," said Bill Meheula, legal counsel for Na'i Aupuni, in the statement.
Justice Anthony Kennedy's order on Friday stopped the certification of any winners pending further direction from him or the entire court. But Na'i Aupuni said the SCOTUS decision temporarily stayed the vote count and certification and not the voting process.
Native Hawaiians are voting to elect delegates for a convention next year to come up with a self-governance document to be ratified by Native Hawaiians. Voting was supposed to end Monday.
"While we can immediately notify those who provided their email addresses to Election-America that the voting period is extended, it will take longer to effectively provide notice to mail-only voters, so we are extending the deadline by three weeks to provide time for voters to receive our notice and to vote," Meheula said. "As we await a decision by SCOTUS, we strongly encourage those who have not yet voted to cast their ballots."
A group of Native Hawaiians and non-Hawaiians is challenging the election, arguing Hawaii residents who don't have Native Hawaiian ancestry are being excluded from the vote, in violation of their constitutional rights. They argue it's an unconstitutional, racially exclusive process.