City clerk rushing to certify anti-rail effort
City Clerk Denise De Costa has until Sept. 3 to certify whether a group has enough signatures to place an anti-rail transit question on the November ballot under a circuit judge's ruling.
That gives De Costa's office about two more weeks to go through Stop Rail Now's 49,041 submitted signatures.
"Work to check all of the names on the petition against our voter registry is continuing as quickly as possible," De Costa said in an e-mail yesterday.
De Costa's deadline falls two days before a crucial deadline to submit all information for the general election to the state Elections Office.
De Costa began processing the group's petition on Aug. 14 after Judge Karl Sakamoto ruled in favor of the group that the City Charter allows for it to create a ballot question on the general election if it submitted enough signatures three months before the election.
This rejects an earlier decision by De Costa, who had declined the petition because of a section in the Charter that states no "special" election shall be held if signatures are received less than six months prior to another election.
"The delay caused by the city clerk's refusal to accept the petition for filing shall not be used by the city clerk as a basis for failing to examine or process the petition for possible submittal to electors at the general election to be held on Nov. 4," Sakamoto wrote in his ruling.
Organizers of Stop Rail Now consider this another step in their goal to place a ballot question asking Oahu voters, "Shall an ordinance be adopted to prohibit train and rail transit in the City and County of Honolulu?"
Still unclear is the required number of registered voter signatures: 10 percent or 15 percent -- about 30,000 or 45,000, respectively -- of the votes cast in the last mayoral election. Sakamoto's ruling did not specifically address this issue.
"I am confident the question will appear on the ballot," said Earle Partington, attorney for Stop Rail Now. "I am not confident the city clerk will certify it. I expect we will have to race back to court to get an order to put it on based on the number of certified signatures."
The City Council is expected to vote today on its own proposed Charter amendments, which requires six of nine votes, to let Oahu residents vote on this issue.