Hawaii will hold a special all-mail election for Honolulu City Council District 4 on April 13, Gov. David Ige and elections officials announced Tuesday.

The district includes about 66,000 registered voters — more than the population of Kauai County but less than the population of Maui County — and the special election will cost about $250,000 to run.

The election will be limited to Trevor Ozawa, who is seeking re-election, and his challenger, Tommy Waters. District 4 stretches from Kewalo Basin to Hawaii Kai.

On Friday, the Supreme Court invalidated the November election results in the race, which had Ozawa ahead by just 22 votes.

The result had been challenged by Waters and a group of 39 district voters.

City Clerk Glenn Takahashi speaks during press conference about the special election for district 4 city council with Vice Chair Menor, Acting Chair Kobayashi and Governor Ige.
From left, City Clerk Glen Takahashi, City Council members Ron Menor and Ann Kobayashi and Gov. David Ige discuss the special election. Cory Lum/Civil Beat

The court declared that 350 mail ballots collected after 6 p.m. from a U.S. Postal Service airport facility should not have been counted because they were gathered up too late on election night. Hawaii’s election law requires that all the mail ballots must be received by the Honolulu City Clerk’s office by the close of polls on election day, which in this case was 6 p.m.

The city argued before the high court last week that the USPS system could be considered a designee for the city clerk, so any ballots received before 6 p.m. should be valid. But the court said that City Clerk Glen Takahashi did not delegate the authority to collect ballots to anyone.

Waters led Ozawa in partial results for most of the evening until the final count was announced early Nov. 7.

The two also squared off for the District 4 post in 2014, when Ozawa won by just 41 votes.

Ige signed a proclamation Tuesday morning calling the special election. The governor, Takahashi and City Council members Ann Kobayashi and Ron Menor held a press conference Tuesday afternoon at the governor’s office and announced the following details about the special election:

• The special election will involve only Ozawa and Waters.

• Ballots will be sent by Wednesday, Feb. 27 to military and overseas voters — over 200 persons fall into that category.

• The voter registration deadline will be March 14, 30 days prior to the election.

• The remaining vote-by-mail ballots will be sent out by March 21.

• There will be early walk-in voting at Honolulu Hale only, from April 1 to 13, and same-day registration is available on Election Day.

• Polls will close at 6 p.m. on Saturday, April 13 and results will be announced that evening. Takahashi said the city will have at least two election observers to ensure that county officials physically collect ballots by 6 p.m.

Meanwhile, the City Council is expected to appoint an interim council member Monday — someone other than Ozawa or Waters — to represent the district.

Kobayashi said the Council will hold a meeting Monday and will accept public testimony on the appointment and will likely hold a final vote the following day.

The council issued a statement Tuesday afternoon calling for people to recommend candidates for the interim position to their current council members. Candidates must reside in District 4.

“We are on a very short time line to fill the temporary vacancy,” Kobayashi said in the statement. “The residents of District 4 deserved representation prior to a candidate being certified as the winner of the Special Election, including a 20-day period to contest the results after April 13.”

Names and resumes of District 4 residents can also be submitted by noon Friday directly to the Council District 4 office, which continues to serve constituents via email at ccldistrict4@honolulu.gov or by mail at Council District 4, 530 South King St., Room 202, Honolulu, Hawaii 96813. The office phone number is (808) 768-5004.

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