U.S. Rep. Colleen Hanabusa filed a motion Wednesday to stop Friday’s election on the Big Island until power is restored, roadblocks are removed and proper notification is given to voters in the two affected precincts.

Updated 4:24 p.m., 8/13/2014

A hearing before Judge Greg Nakamura has been set for 10:30 a.m., Thursday, in Hilo.

Hanabusa is trying to unseat U.S. Sen. Brian Schatz, who had a 1,635-vote lead out of roughly 230,000 ballots cast in last Saturday’s Democratic primary. Both are on the Big Island helping storm victims.

The two polling sites, located in the Puna district, were closed last Friday as Tropical Storm Iselle made landfall on the island’s eastern coast. 

Rep. Colleen Hanabusadelipackage up chili at the Makuu Farmers Market near Paradise Park in Puna on August 12, 2014

U.S. Rep. Colleen Hanabusa delivers ice at the Makuu Farmers Market near Paradise Park in Puna on Tuesday.

PF Bentley/Civil Beat

As noted in the lawsuit, filed in the 3rd Circuit Court, Chief Election Officer Scott Nago announced Monday that the election for the two precincts would be held Friday instead, and that the two precincts would be consolidated into one polling location at Keoneopoko Elementary School. More than 8,000 voters are potentially affected, although it’s unknown how many voted by mail in advance.

Hanabusa and Schatz have both been out talking to local residents and helping deliver supplies.

“It is completely unrealistic to think people struggling to find basic necessities or get out of their homes will have the ability to go to the polls this week,” Hanabusa said in a news release Wednesday.

“I believe that every single vote should count and that we have an obligation to do all we can to ensure what is the most basic and fundamental right of American citizens,” she said.

The Office of Elections or the courts will determine the best way to move forward to maximize voter participation, Schatz campaign spokeswoman Meaghan Smith said in a statement.

“Senator Schatz believes that the voters in Puna and across Hawaii must be given fair access to voting and the Senator’s campaign will be committed and respectful whenever the election is held,” Smith said.

Hanabusa is seeking a temporary restraining order and emergency injunctive relief.

Read the complaint here:

Read the motion here:

About the Author