No ruling on Kauai runoff
The challenger claims the mayor did not get the needed majority
LIHUE » Kauai officials have not decided whether Mayor Bryan Baptiste won his re-election bid outright in Saturday's primary.
And it still might be a few days before County Clerk Peter Nakamura makes the decision to certify Saturday's results and declare a winner.
That has not stopped mayoral candidate Jesse Fukushima from campaigning, and it did not stop Baptiste or Nakamura from returning to their jobs yesterday.
Lyndon Yoshioka, elections administrator for Kauai, said they were looking at opinions by former county attorneys on the issue of what defines a "vote cast."
Baptiste finished well ahead of challenger Fukushima, with 8,173 votes to 4,725, according to final numbers.
But to avoid a runoff, according to the County Charter, the mayor needed "a majority of the votes cast for that office."
The debate is whether blank votes and votes by people who voted for more than one candidate should be included in the full count. The election is so close that even the four people who overvoted could swing the decision in favor of Fukushima and lead to a runoff election.
If only the votes of those who cast for the five candidates are counted, Baptiste would avoid a runoff by one vote.
The Democratic Party of Kauai, which supported Fukushima and two other candidates, said the decision is clear: A runoff must be held.
Martin Rice, chairman of the Democratic Party, said recent case law is clear: "Votes cast" includes all votes, blank or otherwise, and "Mayor Baptiste's self-proclaimed victory is premature."
Baptiste spokeswoman Mary Daubert did not return a call for comment.
Fukushima said yesterday that he had talked to Nakamura, but "all I got is the election summary."
The decision is Nakamura's, said Rex Quidilla, state election services coordinator. "The interpretation of those numbers really falls into the hands of the county clerk," he said.
Someone who wanted to challenge the results, Quidilla said, would file paperwork in the state Supreme Court that could include a request for a recount or a redetermination of the "votes cast" debate.