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StarBulletin.com

Maui judge formalizes ruling that bans electronic voting


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POSTED: Tuesday, September 15, 2009

A Maui judge has made permanent an oral ruling that bars the state Office of Elections from using electronic voting machines or transmitting election results over the Internet or telephone lines.

Circuit Judge Joseph Cardoza, whose written ruling on the matter was filed Thursday, sided with five Maui plaintiffs who argued the electronic voting methods should have been subject to public hearings through the administrative rule-making process.

Cardoza had issued an oral ruling in May.

How the ruling might affect the 2010 elections was not immediately known.

Chief Election Officer Kevin Cronin said his office was reviewing Cardoza's decision and was not prepared to comment on specifics.

The issue is expected to come up today as the Senate Ways and Means Committee holds an informational briefing on the office's ability to carry out next year's elections under tight budget restraints.

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In prepared testimony, Cronin says budget cuts and other fiscal restrictions by Gov. Linda Lingle have left the Elections Office with insufficient funds to “;successfully execute”; the 2010 elections, which include races for governor and Congress.

Cronin says budget restrictions leave the agency short of funds to fill four key positions.

Last month, faced with a much smaller operations budget for the current fiscal year, the Elections Office decided to pay its utility and other overhead costs through June instead of filling the positions.

The office also needs to buy voting machines for next year's election.

Vendors' bids are due to the office by Oct. 15, but Lance Collins, the attorney for the plaintiffs in the Maui case, says the judge's ruling invalidates the request for proposals until administrative rules are adopted spelling out the method of voting.

The statewide primary election is scheduled for Sept. 18, 2010, and the general election is Nov. 2, 2010.