State definition shelves charter amendment

A proposed change to the county’s constitution that some community members have characterized as “an amendment to end all amendments” will not appear on the ballot this fall.

Kaua‘i County Councilwoman Shaylene Iseri-Carvalho, who introduced the proposed charter amendment last month, said Wednesday that the resolution was not in accordance with its intent.

The Committee of the Whole unanimously voted to receive Resolution 2008-33, which effectively kills the proposed amendment.

Iseri-Carvalho said the amendment’s purpose was to resolve an inconsistency in how votes are counted.

State law requires constitutional amendment votes to be counted one way while the county counts its charter amendment votes another way, Iseri-Carvalho said.

Hawai‘i Revised Statutes, as interpreted by the 9th Circuit Court, calls for blank ballots to be used to determine the threshold in counting votes for a state constitutional amendment. The number needed for passage is calculated by adding the “yes,” “no” and blank ballots together, dividing by two and adding one, she said.

The county, however, says charter amendments pass if there are more “yes” votes than “no” votes. Blank ballots count as blank ballots and are not counted when determining the threshold.

Councilwoman JoAnn Yukimura said state law supersedes the county charter.

“We need to follow it,” she said. “Changing the state statute would be the proper way to change it.”

The proposed charter amendment was not the appropriate jurisdiction, Yukimura said.

Iseri-Carvalho had proposed that blank and spoiled ballots or over votes shall be included as “no” votes when calculating the total votes cast in an election.

She said this would have pulled the county’s practice in line with the state’s.

Some residents and local organizations testified against the proposed amendment last week at the Historic County Building. They asked why it should be made harder for voters to change the county’s constitution and said the question that would have appeared on the ballot on Nov. 4 was vague.

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