Report Title:

Elections; Recount of Votes



Requires a vote recount for only that race in which the difference between the winner and the next highest vote-getter is less than one percentage point of the total number of votes cast for that office.


S.B. NO.









relating to elections.



SECTION 1. The legislature finds that the result of the race for the house of representatives district 44 was challenged after the November 1998, general election. The legislature further finds that in January 1999, the state supreme court ordered the state chief election officer's manual audit team to manually tally the votes in district 44, precinct 1 and compare the manual count against the computer generated results for the precinct from the November 3, 1998, election results. This recount was necessary because of the very close election result in that race.

For reasons that are either unknown or incomprehensible, the recount was not only of the votes cast in the challenged contest, the race for the house of representatives from that district, but of all votes cast in that precinct in all races, including those for the United States Senate and Congress, for governor, and for state senator, even though the outcomes were not challenged. Additionally, candidates from the races other than the challenged contest were not allowed to be present either personally or through representatives despite the fact that the votes in their races were being recounted in that precinct.

This process, which requires judicial intervention, is both time consuming and expensive. In this case, it left the nominees uncertain as to the winner of the election for at least eight to ten weeks following the general election.

The purpose of this Act is to require a recount for only the particular race involved, when the final vote tally difference between the top two candidates is less than one percentage point.

SECTION 2. Chapter 11, Hawaii Revised Statutes, is amended by adding a new section to be appropriately designated and to read as follows:

"11-    Recount of votes cast for close contests. (a) Notwithstanding any law to the contrary, if, within three days after an election, it appears to the chief election officer that the plurality of an elected candidate for an office over the vote for a defeated candidate receiving the next highest number of votes was less than a vote equivalent to one percentage point of the total number votes cast for the office, excluding spoiled, over or under counts, and blank ballots, the chief election officer shall order a recount of votes for that contest only, to be conducted within fifteen working days. Before the recount is made, the chief election officer shall give notice in writing to the two leading candidates in that contest of the time and place where the recount is to be made. The two leading candidates in that contest may send two representatives each to be present at that recount. At the completion of the recount, the chief election officer shall announce the officer's findings within twenty-four hours. The chief election officer shall adopt rules under chapter 91 to implement this section in a fair, uniform, and impartial manner. For purposes of this section, "total number of votes cast" means, in the case of multiple openings for the same office, the total number of electors checked as having voted in the State, district, or county, as the case may be.

(b) Nothing in this section shall preclude the right to initiate judicial proceedings under this chapter."

SECTION 3. New statutory material is underscored.

SECTION 4. This Act shall take effect upon its approval.