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Wednesday, September 27, 2000

Hawaii State Seal

City clerk says
office checked on
new citizen voters

Out of 543 tagged as possibly
being ineligible, 153 proved or
asserted their citizenship and
were allowed to vote

By Gordon Y.K. Pang

The city allowed 153 registered Oahu voters -- out of 543 tagged as possibly being ineligible because of noncitizenship -- to enter the ballot booth Saturday.

City Clerk Genny Wong said 144 of them responded to two mailings from her office earlier this month by returning a copy of their naturalization papers or some other proof of citizenship.

Nine other voters showed up at their precincts on Saturday and, after talking to Wong by telephone, agreed to sign affidavits of re-registration before walking into voting booths.

They were not asked to give proof of citizenship, she said. "But in talking to them I felt satisfied that they understood (the consequences of voting illegally), and some of them were very adamant that they were citizens," she said. "Some told me they had been citizens for a while."

Five others told her they weren't citizens and were told they could not vote, she said.

Earlier this month, Wong's office announced that it believed as many as 543 people who registered for the primary may have been ineligible. The names came from a cross-check of voter lists with a list from the office that gives out state identification cards which asks a question about citizenship before giving out the ID cards.

Wong said 66 people responding to the two mailings sent back cards canceling their registration. They, along with the five who on Saturday acknowledged they aren't citizens, are no longer on voter rolls.

That leaves 319 questionable names, including 113 whose mail was returned undelivered, Wong said.

Meanwhile, Kim Murakawa, a spokeswoman for Gov. Ben Cayetano, confirmed that he has asked the attorney general's office to find out if there was any intentional wrongdoing tied to the ineligible voters or whether they were all the result of honest errors.

The deputy attorney general assigned to election-related issues, however, said he could not comment on any case the office is working on.

State Elections Web Site

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