Only 17 votes separate Democratic incumbent Rep. Marilyn Lee and Republican Shaun Kawakami in the final printout of election results for House District 38 released early Wednesday.
Forty-eight votes divide the leader of the District 2 Honolulu City Council race, Ernie Martin, from John White.
The races are so close that the losers are considering asking the Supreme Court to order a recount. No concession calls have been made.
House District 38
Lee won the race to represent District 38 in the state Legislature, according to the fourth, final but uncertified, printout. She received 5,578 votes, or 48.4 percent. Kawakami took in 5,561, or 48.2 percent.
But the GOP candidate says he has no intention of making a concession call any time soon.
“I’m working with the leadership at the Hawaii Republican Party,” Kawakami told Civil Beat. “We’re trying to get together and see what we can do to look into this matter and really look at the details of the election count.”
Kawakami said he was firmly in the lead after the third of four election printouts. However, at some point between 2 a.m. and 5:45 a.m., a surge of a 1,000 extra votes tipped the election in Lee’s favor.
The late count, Kawakami said, was “very strange.”
“At 2 a.m., the report said that I was up by 63 votes,” he said. “Then, seemingly out of nowhere, a thousand extra votes flooded in and the 5:45 report said that I was down by 17. So that was a real shocker for me. Because we thought at 2 a.m., it was a done deal.”
Hawaii Revised Statute 11-174.5 details the course Kawakami may take if he intends to file an official grievance regarding the race. Candidates aren’t permitted to ask for a recount but they may petition the state Supreme Court to address the issue. They have 20 days after the election date to decide.
The court then has the power to determine if the Office of Elections will hold a recount: “At the hearing,” the statute says, “the court shall cause the evidence to be reduced to writing and shall give judgment, stating all findings of fact and of law. The judgment may invalidate the general, special general, special, or runoff election on the grounds that a correct result cannot be ascertained because of a mistake or fraud on the part of the precinct officials.”
Kawakami said he has not yet decided what he will do.
His opponent, however, says she’s waiting to see what happens but would be just fine with a 17-vote margin of victory.
“They call me Landslide Lee,” she joked.
Rep. Lee said she wasn’t overly worried about a recount. In fact, she told Civil Beat that if it was going to happen, it’s likely already taken place.
“I think that’s kind of pro forma because these days with computers, they can do it really easily,” Lee said. “They probably have already done it.”
Lee said regardless of the outcome, her spirits were high Wednesday morning.
“I feel great today,” she said. “Last night it was difficult because I really didn’t expect to lose.”
She will let the next twenty days unfold and react accordingly, she told Civil Beat.
“Politics is a tough business,” Lee said. “You never know what’s going to happen.”
City Council District 2
In another tight race, Martin hopes to hold on to a slim advantage over White in Honolulu City Council District 2. The fourth printout of results showed Martin leading by 11,056 votes, or 42.5 percent compared to White’s 11,008 votes, or 42.3 percent. In total, Martin leads White by 48 votes.
White released a statement Wednesday afternoon saying: “I want to thank everyone who supported our campaign. Regardless of the outcome of the election, I pledge my continuing support to improve the community and find a way to make positive change in Hawaii. At this point in time, due to the closeness of the votes, I am keeping my options open.”
Martin’s campaign manager, Melanie Martin, conceded that White could go to the Supreme Court and ask for a recount. However, they did feel optimistic about the results.
“I think the final count is in,” said Martin. “And he won by 48.”
She did point out that final printout is yet to be certified and the campaign is waiting on official word from the Office of Elections.
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