Yoshina won’t step aside
in Nader appeal
State election chief Dwayne Yoshina said yesterday he will rule in a couple days on a challenge to his decision that Ralph Nader will not be included on Hawaii's presidential ballot.
Yoshina commented during a hearing requested by Nader supporters. At the start of the hearing, Yoshina refused to recuse himself as the hearings officer for the case.
A similar hearing is scheduled for today on a challenge filed by Hawaii supporters of Constitution Party presidential candidate Michael A. Peroutka. Yoshina has ruled that Peroutka also failed to get enough valid signatures to be included on the Hawaii ballot.
Attorney Jay Friedheim, who represented the Nader campaign, said Yoshina should step aside as hearings officer because of a conflict of interest. He said he intended to call Yoshina as a witness to find out how and why decisions were made on disqualifying signatures on Nader's petition.
"He is not in a position to swear himself to tell the truth and then judge his own testimony," Friedheim said.
But Yoshina said he can serve as a fair decision-maker.
"I have no personal interest in this case. My only interest is in running a successful election," he said.
Yoshina also denied a request for a continuance, saying, "We need to bring closure to this."
Deputy Attorney General Aaron Schulaner said the only issue for the hearing was whether the Nader campaign got the required number of valid signatures to get on the ballot.
But Friedheim said the Nader campaign needs to know why names were excluded.
The Nader campaign was required to submit 3,711 valid signatures. The Office of Elections informed the Nader supporters on Sept. 20 that they fell 39 signatures short. Four days later, Yoshina informed them a recalculation showed they were 587 signatures short.
Lori Tomczyk, ballot operations coordinator in the Office of Elections, said the discrepancy was a result of one batch of petitions being counted twice.