State Sen.-elect Kurt Fevella received the most votes cast in the November general election for Senate District 19, and there is no reason to overturn the results, the Hawaii Supreme Court ruled Wednesday.

Fevella’s opponent, former state Rep. Matt LoPresti, had challenged the results, in which Fevella won by a mere 116 votes, 6,205 to LoPresti’s 6,089, in the race to represent an area that includes Ewa Beach.

Fevella will now become the only Republican in the state Senate.

LoPresti had alleged that irregularities in voting or in vote counting could have affected the outcome. He also said the 116-vote difference equaled just 0.9 percent of the total votes cast, justifying a recount.

Senator Kurt Fevella during Senate hearing listening to UH VP of Budget and finance.

Kurt Fevella will become the only Republican state senator when the Legislature convenes Jan. 16.

Cory Lum/Civil Beat

But the court ruled Wednesday that “LoPresti has not shown in his submissions to this court actual information of errors, mistakes, irregularities, error rates, or variances sufficient to change the outcome of the election or change the reported margin of votes between himself and Fevella.”

LoPresti said he wasn’t surprised by the decision, but still objected to the fact that state law doesn’t require recounts in close races.

“Twenty other states have recounts,” said LoPresti, who represented himself in his court challenge. “What this shows is that the standard for getting a recount in this state is impossible to meet.”

Part of his goal, LoPresti said, was to shed light on what he sees as a flaw in Hawaii’s law.

Rep Matt LoPresti speaks about anti flotilla/drinking on the ocean bill leading up the the aid in death bill.

Former Hawaii Rep. Matt LoPresti said he wasn’t surprised by the high court’s decision rejecting his challenge of the November election results.

Cory Lum/Civil Beat

“I wasn’t making a legal argument,” he said. “I was making a philosophical one.”

The court’s ruling comes a day after it asked for more information in another election challenge, this one involving an even closer race. The court asked the elections office and the Honolulu city clerk to explain how mail ballots were collected for the City Council election in which incumbent Trevor Ozawa beat challenger Tommy Waters by just 22 votes to represent a district stretching from Waikiki to Hawaii Kai.

Waters’ challenge has blocked Ozawa from being sworn in for a new term.

The court gave Chief Elections Officer Scott Nago and Honolulu City Clerk Glen Takahashi until 4:30 p.m. Wednesday to provide more information regarding the procedures the office and U.S. Postal Service used to deliver the ballots and to address if any ballots were not counted.

Nago said he and his office don’t handle and collect absentee mail-in ballots from the United States Postal Service on the general election day and thus had no information to provide the court. Takahashi filed a request for an extension to respond on grounds that he was attending a conference in Washington, D.C.

Before you go . . .

During a crisis like this, it’s more important than ever to dig beyond the news, to figure out what government policies mean for ordinary citizens and how those policies were put together.

For the first time, Civil Beat has become a seven-days-per-week news operation, publishing new stories and a new edition each Saturday and Sunday as well as weekdays.

This is perhaps the biggest, most consequential story our reporters will ever cover. And at no other time in Civil Beat’s history have we relied on your support more. Please consider supporting Civil Beat by making a tax-deductible gift.

About the Author