Native Hawaiian Election Votes Extended
Na’i Aupuni announced Monday morning that the deadline to vote in the organization’s Native Hawaiian election, which could pave the way for Native Hawaiian self-determination, has been extended.
The announcement follows U.S. Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy’s decision to issue a temporary stay Friday, which prohibits the counting of ballots cast and the announcement of election winners until further order from the Court.
Friday’s decision did not put a stop to the voting process.
William Meheula, legal counsel for Na’i Aupuni, says the decision to extend the vote is, in part, due to voter concerns and questions on the Supreme Court’s decision to temporarily stop the vote count.
“While we can immediately notify those who provided their email addresses to Election-America that the voting period is extended, it will take longer to effectively provide notice to mail-only voters, so we are extending the deadline by three weeks to provide time for voters to receive our notice and to vote,” Meheula said. “As we await a decision by SCOTUS, we strongly encourage those who have not yet voted to cast their ballots.”
Meheula says that Na’i Aupuni is confident that the court will rule in their favor.
The lawsuit against Na’i Aupuni, the Office of Hawaiian Affairs, and the State of Hawai’i argues that a race-based election should not involve the state. Judge J. Michael Seabright ruled in late October that the election is a private poll, dismissing the lawsuit and allowing the election to continue. An attempt to appeal the ruling on Nov. 19 was also dismissed.
“We feel strongly that the Supreme Court will agree with Judge Seabright that the plaintiffs are not entitled to enjoin our election,” said Meheula.
The election names 40 delegates to a constitutional convention, or ‘aha, that would meet in February. Together, the delegates would work on a potential self-determination governing document and ratification referendum of that governing document. These actions could lead to self-governance.
Na’i Aupuni says that protests against the ‘aha are based on unfounded fears of loss of ceded land and chance of independence.
“Nothing is predetermined about the ‘aha,” Meheula said. “This is an opportunity to talk about all forms of government, including independence, and any recommendation will be taken back to the voters.”