Colleen Hanabusa seeks voting delay for storm-stricken Hawaiians

Rep. Colleen Hanabusa, D-Hawaii, who is challenging Democratic Sen. Brian Schatz, is seeking an additional delay in makeup voting for Hawaiians who were affected by Tropical Storm Iselle.

Damage from the storm last weekend prevented voters in two precincts in Puna on the island of Hawaii, also known as the Big Island, from reaching the polls in the Saturday primary.

The state's chief election officer had announced makeup voting would take place on Friday, but Hanabusa filed a lawsuit Wednesday saying that wasn't enough time.

"As of this filing, voters in the affected area are still without power and local roads remain blocked," her attorneys wrote in the lawsuit. "With blocked roads, widespread damage, and limited means of communication, there is no practical manner to ensure that all residents will receive adequate notice of the announced election or be able to access the precincts on that day."

A hearing is set for Thursday.

Hanabusa is challenging Schatz, who was appointed to the Senate seat following the death of longtime Democratic Sen. Daniel Inouye. Schatz currently leads Hanabusa by just 1,635 votes, according to the latest tally of results from the state. Twelve percent of the 8,200 registered voters in the twoprecincts have already cast advance ballots for the primary, meaning the makeup voting will decide the election once votes are cast.

A spokeswoman for Schatz's campaign told the Times they will go along with whatever the Office of Elections or the court decides.

"Sen. Schatz believes that the voters in Puna and across Hawaii must be given fair access to voting and the senator's campaign will be committed and respectful whenever the election is held," Smith said.

  • Rebecca Kaplan

    Rebecca Kaplan is a political reporter for