Board depletion further delays election challenge

An election challenge pending since 2014 will have to wait a bit longer before it’s resolved, now that a three-member panel charged with hearing it has eroded to a single member.

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An election challenge pending since 2014 will have to wait a bit longer before it’s resolved, now that a three-member panel charged with hearing it has eroded to a single member.

Andrew A.T. Chun, voted chairman of the Hawaii Island Board of Registration during a meeting Tuesday, announced that member Philip G. Matlage resigned, and David A. Yonan said he would soon submit his resignation for family reasons.

“We need to reconstitute this board,” Chun told the parties present. “Unfortunately, we do have to wait until this board is reconstituted and then truly the meat and potatoes of decision-making can be done.”

He gave the parties in the challenge until June 26 to file motions and July 26 to file responses with the state Office of Elections.

Members are appointed by the governor and confirmed by the state Senate. But Chun said the governor can appoint interim members who can serve until the Legislature reconvenes to confirm them.

Each board of registration is given all the powers and authority for the summoning and examining of witnesses and the maintenance of order, including the power to punish for contempt and award witness fees, by law given to circuit courts.

The case, involving candidate Ron Gonzales who ran unsuccessfully against then-Kohala Councilwoman Margaret Wille, is moot, said Gonzales’ attorney, Lincoln Ashida.

“Whatever occurred in 2014, that’s done,” Ashida said, adding the Supreme Court in its ruling was giving the board guidance about future cases and the best way to handle it if something similar comes up.

But Lanric Hyland, who filed the objection, wants the Board of Registration to go through the process of determining whether Gonzales lived in the district for which he was running, as a caution to others. He wants a clear determination that County Clerk Stewart Maeda incorrectly ruled Gonzales lived in council District 9.

The Hawaii Supreme Court sent the case back to the Board of Registration, saying it erred when it determined Hyland did not file his complaint in a timely manner. Hyland wants the case tried on the merits, to require a stricter interpretation of where someone makes their domicile.

Hyland, participating by telephone, chafed at the delay.

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“Are you going to be making any decisions today?” Hyland asked in an incredulous voice. “I really believe that’s an abdication of your responsibility.”

Email Nancy Cook Lauer at ncook-lauer@westhawaiitoday.com.

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