State high court rules in favor of Baptiste
The court dismisses suits against the Kauai mayor's re-election
The Hawaii Supreme Court has affirmed the election of Bryan J. Baptiste as Kauai County mayor in the Sept. 23 primary election by ruling against two of his challengers.
The state high court ruled yesterday that candidates John R. Hoff and Janee M. Taylor could not show that actual errors or mistakes occurred that would have changed the outcome of the election.
The justices ruled in both cases that the remedy Hoff and Taylor sought was not provided for under state law.
The only remedy for primary election irregularities as provided under the law is to have the court decide which candidate was elected.
Baptiste was declared the winner of the mayoral election because he received 50 percent of the votes plus two votes in the primary election, meaning he did not have to go onto a general election runoff.
In a statement, Baptiste said: "We are obviously pleased that the Hawaii Supreme Court's judgment upheld Kauai County's primary election process. We want to thank the people of Kauai and Niihau for their overwhelming support and encouragement, and look forward to continuing to do our best for our island home."
Hoff came in third place with 1,984 votes; Taylor came in last in a field of five with 377 votes. Baptiste garnered 8,173 votes.
Hoff sought an audit of the election results based on numerous factors, including the possibility of inconsistency in the processing of absentee and walk-in ballots and the possibility that 794 votes were added erroneously to Baptiste's vote count.
He also complained about the absence of official observers at election sites, the failure of precinct officials to remind voters to vote on both sides of the ballot, difficulties with the electronic voting machines, and voters' inability to vote for "none" in the mayor's race.
"It is not sufficient for a plaintiff challenging a primary election to point to a poorly run and inadequately supervised election process that evinces room for abuse or possibilities of fraud," the justices wrote.
"An election contest cannot be based upon mere belief or indefinite information."
Hoff said yesterday that "it's over" and he's "getting back to normal life."
Hoff said that while he wishes Baptiste well and would certainly help him if asked, he hopes Baptiste "starts focusing on some issues" like the problems with affordable housing, solid waste and energy.
In her complaint, Taylor alleged discrepancies in the primary election printouts. She also noted the possibility that the county violated federal and state election laws and the county's failure to properly educate voters.
Taylor sought an investigation of election procedures.