The winner of tomorrow's special election to fill the remaining weeks of the late U.S. Rep. Patsy Mink's current term may not be able to get officially sworn into office before the term is over.
Vote winner may not
be sworn in
38 candidates are competing for the
unexpired term of the late Patsy Mink
By Crystal Kua
With Congress not slated to be in session next month, that is the scenario being painted by one of the candidates.
"There's not likely to be a formal swearing-in ceremony because in order for there to be a formal swearing-in ceremony, Congress would have to be in session," said former state Rep. Ed Case.
Tomorrow's election is the first of two winner-take-all special elections for Congress. Both contests came about as a result of Mink's death on Sept. 28. Mink's current term ends in January.
The second election, scheduled for Jan. 4, will select a replacement for the next two year-term in the 108th Congress. The 2nd Congressional District includes rural Oahu and the neighbor islands.
"It's a little bit of a unique situation because if one wins on Nov. 30 -- and Congress never goes back into session -- and does not win on Jan. 4, you never will be technically, formally sworn in, but you will have served and you will have been a legal member of the 107th Congress. You just won't be sworn in," Case said.
"You'll have the responsibilities of the office," he noted. "There will be a duty to manage it and serve the constituency. That won't change."
Case and John Mink, the late congresswoman's husband, are seen as the leading candidates in the race, but with a field of 38 candidates, political observers say anything could happen because a winner could be decided with only a small percentage of votes.
Mink could not be reached for comment, but he has said that he will not campaign for the seat. He said he reluctantly filed for the seat to be able to finish his wife's work and help her staff close her office. He is not a candidate in the January election.
Case, who is running in both elections, said it is important to get continuous representation and the seniority that being elected in both elections will bring. He said if he wins tomorrow, he will fly to Washington next week to meet with Mink's staff, whom he has promised to keep on until January, and other members of Congress.
Election officials say, meanwhile, that there are important things for voters to remember.
To save money, more than half of the usual polling places in rural Oahu and on the neighbor islands will be eliminated, and people who normally vote there will have to vote somewhere else.
Voters should check the voter notification card that was mailed to them to see where they vote. If they have not received the card in the mail, they should call their local county clerk's office.
"The only way to ensure that they are going to the right place is either to look for that card and note their polling place or give a call to the office -- that would save them a lot of time driving to their usual polling place only to find that it's closed for this election," said Rex Quidilla, state Office of Elections spokesman.
The list of special-election polling places can also be found on the Star-Bulletin's Web site at starbulletin.com/2002/11/16/news/index3.html.
Quidilla said that while everyone on the neighbor islands will be able vote, not everyone on Oahu will. "In the case of Honolulu, there may be some people who believe they may be voting in this election but haven't received their cards, so they should call because they may not live in the district."
Quidilla said that once voters get to the polls, there will be only one ballot for one contest with 38 candidates. "Vote for one and only one candidate. They will then be expected to put their ballot in a secured ballot box. There will not be a precinct counter there. Make sure they correctly mark their ballot."
The results of the election will not be known until the late afternoon or early evening on Sunday.
After polls close at 6 p.m. tomorrow, ballots from the neighbor islands will be flown by cargo plane to Oahu where officials will begin counting the ballots on Sunday morning at the state Capitol.
It is not known exactly how long it will take to get results because it will depend on voter turnout, Quidilla said.
On the Web: The list of candidates can be found at www.state.hi.us/elections/cand/candidates2.html.
State Office of Elections
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