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Thursday, September 21, 2000

Big Isle
candidates color the
ballot confusing

With nine parties -- and
nine colors -- to choose from, the trick
is to stick with a single hue


By Rod Thompson

HILO -- Voting for Big Island mayor in this weekend's multiparty primary should be a snap -- as long as voters aren't color blind and if they pay more attention to instructions than most airline passengers do with flight safety briefings, the island's top election official and some candidates say.

Those who fall short on these requirements could spoil a ballot. And if a race is close, spoiled ballots could mean spoiled chances for a candidate, they say.


Bullet Harris releases Ewa Villages reports at Hannemann's request.
Bullet Republican candidates spar over voting record in Windward Senate race.

Unlike the nonpartisan mayoral contest in Honolulu, nine parties (including nonpartisan) are represented in the Big Island race, each with its own color on the ballot.

The trick is to pick one color and stick to it. Vote more than one color and your ballot is considered spoiled.

County Clerk Al Konishi, the Big Island's top election official, says there will be no problems if people read ballot instructions, which are printed in several languages.

The people who may have trouble are the same ones who refuse to listen to safety briefings on an airplane, Konishi says.

But Republican candidate Harry Kim thinks there may be a problem. Most people know Kim as the county's former Civil Defense director, but years ago he was a teacher. He said he remembers from those days that a surprising number of people, mostly males, are at least partially colorblind.

Kim, who voted absentee so he could get a look at the ballot, said the instructions are confusing. After saying voters can pick only one color, the instructions say they can pick one more color if they want, the one that identifies the nonpartisan Board of Education race.

Despite its pitfalls, Konishi says the ballot offers voters freedom.

For example, there are more Democrats than Republicans on the Big Island. The ballot format gives Democrats who have long supported Democrat-turned-Republican Harvey Tajiri the chance to cross over and vote for him.

They just have to remember not to turn around and vote for a Democrat in a County Council race.

Tajiri says he isn't worried. He doesn't expect many spoiled ballots, and the ones that are spoiled will probably be evenly divided between himself and fellow Republican Kim, he said.

Konishi points out that voting machines will automatically tell voters when their ballots are spoiled. He reminds folks to not be embarrassed to admit a mistake and ask for a new ballot.

It's no different from going into McDonald's and asking which is regular Coke and which is Diet Coke, he said.

Mailer fires up
Windward GOP
Senate race

By Crystal Kua

Republican candidates for a Windward Oahu Senate seat are duking it out in the days before their primary election bout.

State Sen. Whitney Anderson is being challenged by former state Rep. Fred Hemmings for the 25th Senatorial District, which covers Kailua to Waimanalo.

The winner of Saturday's GOP primary battle will advance to the general election to meet the victor of the Democratic primary between Jay Friedheim and Leona Kalima.

The rhetoric in the campaign picked up this week with mailers sent by Anderson's camp to district residents, a mailer Hemmings described yesterday as a "last-minute smear" by a "desperate" man.

One mailer lists several spending projects in the 1990 state budget and points out how Anderson and Hemmings voted on them when both were in the state House.

It goes on to say while Anderson voted "yes" for projects in education, transportation, environment, communications, economy, veterans' services and low-income housing, Hemmings voted "no" on the same items.

"Look How Whitney Anderson Worked To Improve Your Life ... While Hemmings Turned His Back On You," is how the mailer describes the votes.

Hemmings called a news conference at Republican Headquarters to respond to the Anderson's charges which he called "technically right, morally wrong."

Hemmings said he "proudly" voted against all of then-Gov. John Waihee's budgets even though the projects listed in Anderson's mailer were worthy ones.

"I voted against them because they were full of waste, inefficiency and I predicted at the time of voting against them that they would lead to the economic demise of Hawaii," Hemmings said. "Responsible legislators vote against irresponsible bills."

Anderson, who sat on the House Finance Committee for 10 years, said there's no deception about the flyer and Hemmings knew exactly what he was voting against. "It's based on fact."

Hemmings said, "There's a saying that desperate people do desperate things."

But Anderson said his chances of winning are as good as the next candidate's.

"I haven't been desperate about anything," he said. "I feel just as comfortable as anyone else, but you don't know how the voters are going to be."

At least one group is working to prevent Anderson from being re-elected because of his vote against confirming Margery Bronster again as state attorney general last year, making him vulnerable this election season

Hemmings said he's tried to run a positive campaign and hasn't attacked his opponent.

"I haven't mentioned any of my opponent's problems," said Hemmings, who also said he's disappointed that the mailer comes from a fellow Republican.

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