in vote recount
A recount of a WaianaeBy Pat Omandam
House contest could lead to
a review of other races
The Hawaii Supreme Court's order to recount or "manually audit" election results of a Waianae House race sets a precedent that may lead to the recount of other close races last November, including the governor's race, says Republican Party Chairwoman Donna Alcantara.
Alcantara today said the Republican Party has no legal basis to ask for a recount of the governor's race at this time. But she said the court's action could "open the door," something the party will explore especially since the deadline to file election challenges expired Nov. 30.
"A new precedence was set," Alcantara said. "That's what we're looking into."
State election officials between 5:30 p.m. yesterday and 12:30 a.m. today completed a recount of the House district race between Republican challenger Emily Auwae and Democratic incumbent Rep. Merwyn Jones.
Auwae had defeated Jones by 21 votes in the 44th District (Waianae-Makaha). The state Democratic Party in November challenged that, citing an abnormally high number of disqualified votes.
Chief Elections Office Dwayne Yoshina today said the manual audit showed Auwae actually had a bigger lead over Jones than initial results showed. Auwae was about 40 votes ahead of Jones when the recount was finished early today, said Linda Aragon, Office of Elections spokeswoman.
There were 3,312 registered voters in the Waianae Elementary 44-01 precinct, the only contested race in the district. Of that amount, 1,937 people actually voted, Yoshina said.
The recount was ordered by the Supreme Court last Thursday. The Democratic Party claimed a precinct machine could have misread the ballots and that there were 163 overvotes, a much higher number than in any other precinct.
After last night's manual audit, Yoshina said, the problem has been narrowed down to a technical glitch with one of the ballot-reading machines. He said that particular reader had tallied overvotes when the actual ballot showed only one candidate was selected.
Overvotes result when voters mark ballots for more candidates than allowed. They are not counted as part of the election results.
Yoshina stressed the audit doesn't change the results of any of the 22 contests or races on those ballots, including the governor's, because the top candidates' margin of victory were greater than the number of overvotes in those races.
Aragon said the number of overvotes dropped in the recount. "None of the contests that are on the precinct reports having to do with candidates . . . are negatively impacted," Yoshina said.
The Office of Elections plans to turn over its results to the high court, which will in turn decide when to release its findings. Meanwhile, Democratic Party Chairman Walter Heen said the party is satisfied with the recount, but not with the Office of Election's action to "stonewall" this election challenge.
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