Eligible voters who
don’t register count
themselves out


Voter sign-ups have increased for the primary election in September, but many citizens remain off the rolls.

ALTHOUGH the primary election is a month away, more than 100,000 voters in Hawaii have already made a choice: They aren't voting for any candidate. They have missed the deadline to register for the Sept. 21 primary and, consciously or not, have taken themselves out of the count.

The deadline for registration was Thursday and although state election officials don't yet have a final tally, 661,000 people had signed up as of Aug. 8. That's 32,000 more than were registered in the 2000 primary. The numbers look promising for more participation; however, about 765,000 citizens are eligible to vote, meaning 100,000 people will be shut out of the primary election process.

Whether the increase in the number of registered voters reflects a keener interest in this year's elections or simply mirrors the rise in the state's population won't be known until Sept. 21. Even if registered, Hawaii voters have proven that they are disinclined to spend a hour or so deciding who their leaders will be; only 41.7 percent of those registered cast ballots in the 2000 election when the nation chose a president.

This year's races are closer to home, focused on the governor's office, and more people may make the effort to go to the polls on a Saturday. A contested Democratic primary with three major candidates also may entice more citizens, but the tepid campaigns they have conducted so far haven't generated much energy. Republicans, too, have a contested primary, although party chairman Micah Kane and candidate Linda Lingle convey otherwise.

Both parties have been desperately seeking voters, signing up people in targeted demographic groups. Democrats have been wooing younger, new voters while Republicans are making gains in Kalihi and Waipahu. But getting people registered is far removed from getting them to cast ballots. Given the apathy in years past, a huge voter turnout would be a surprise.

Meanwhile, the 100,000 who will miss the primary can redeem themselves. The deadline to register for the general election is Oct. 7, lots of time to show good citizenship.


Privacy interests win
in secretive court


A federal court has denied the Justice Department to allow sharing of information between intelligence and prosecutors.

PAST abuses by the FBI in obtaining permission for wiretaps and other electronic surveillance have prompted a secretive federal court to deny authority for the Justice Department to broaden its powers. The court decision sheds light on disturbing practices that threaten Americans' constitutional rights against unwarranted surveillance.

The decision was made in May by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, established by a 1978 law to authorize warrants for surveillance related to espionage or international terrorism. While prosecutors must show probable cause of illegal activity to obtain a search warrant in a criminal investigation, they have had to show only that intelligence-gathering was a primary purpose to obtain an intelligence warrant. The USA Patriot Act, enacted in response to the Sept. 11 attacks, changed that to require only that intelligence-gathering is a significant purpose.

However, the court said the FBI in September 2000 came forward to "confess error" in 75 applications for terrorism-related surveillance applications and reported "similar misstatements" in March 2001. In one case, the court said, a "wall" had been required between FBI intelligence and criminal squads "when in fact all of the FBI agents were on the same squad and all of the screening was done by the one supervisor overseeing both operations."

Most if not all of these abuses occurred prior to the Bush administration, although Janet Reno, attorney general in the Clinton years, reportedly tried to erect a firewall between intelligence- gathering and criminal investigations. Citing the Patriot Act, current Attorney General John Ashcroft asked the surveillance court to allow the Justice Department to broaden cooperation and evidence-gathering between counterintelligence and criminal prosecutors.

The authority sought by Ashcroft would invite the same abuse that has been occurring except on a larger scale. Prosecutors would be tempted to ask for a surveillance warrant related to a criminal investigation without having to show probable cause simply by saying that intelligence-gathering is a purpose of the surveillance. The court was right in denying him that authority.


Published by Oahu Publications Inc., a subsidiary of Black Press.

Don Kendall, Publisher

Frank Bridgewater, Editor 529-4791;
Michael Rovner,
Assistant Editor 529-4768;
Lucy Young-Oda, Assistant Editor 529-4762;

Mary Poole, Editorial Page Editor, 529-4790;
John Flanagan, Contributing Editor 294-3533;

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