ACLU files legal challenge to primary election

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By Star-Advertiser staff


Nico Verissimo of Puna, foreground, voted as a line snaked through the cafeteria of Keonepoko Elementary School on Aug. 15.

The American Civil Liberties Union of Hawaii on Thursday filed a legal challenge to the primary election on behalf of voters in Puna on Hawaii island who were unable to vote because of the damage left by Tropical Storm Iselle.

In a news release, the ACLU says the lawsuit concerns the fundamental right to vote and the disenfranchisement of hundreds and potentially thousands of affected voters. It asks the court to give any voter effected by Iselle the opportunity to vote in person or by absentee ballot by Sept. 20, the constitutional deadline for tabulating primary results.

The lawsuit also urges the court to invalidate a state law that gives Scott Nago, the state’s chief election officer, the discretion over how to conduct a postponed vote after a natural disaster. The ACLU argues that the state Legislature should prescribe how such elections are conducted.

“Although the votes in question may not change the outcome of any of the various races, the ACLU filed this suit because the right to vote is a cornerstone of our democracy,” Daniel Gluck, ACLU senior staff attorney, said in a statement. “Every vote counts equally – this is about an individual exercising a fundamental right and not about the results of any single race.”

The ACLU’s suit challenges the…

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