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Friday, July 19, 2024 | Back issues
Courthouse News Service Courthouse News Service

Rail-Transit Question Doesn’t Make the Ballot

HONOLULU (CN) - A public interest group's bid to place a petition to ban rail transit in Honolulu on the Nov. 4 general election ballot could disenfranchise absentee voters, cause voter confusion and jeopardize the validity of votes cast on the issue, the Hawaii Court of Appeals ruled.

The court denied Stop Rail's request to place Petition 53 on the ballot. The petition, purportedly signed by nearly 50,000 voters, asked the following question: "Shall an ordinance be adopted to prohibit trains and rail transit in the city and county of Honolulu?"

The city clerk cited several problems with adding the question so close to the election, including the "additional time, hardship and unbudgeted costs" of getting the question on the ballot.

In August, the city mayor approved Reso 08-166, which includes a similar rail question: "Shall the powers, duties, and functions of the city, through its director of transportation services, include establishment of a steel wheel on steel rail transit system?"

If the court allowed Stop Rail's question on the ballot, and Stop Rail then lost its appeal, the votes on the rail question would not count.

In that same scenario, the court reasoned, Reso 08-166 would not appear on the ballot, stripping Honolulu voters of their chance to vote on the rail issue in this year's general election.

"Based on all of the arguments and record before us," Judge Leonard wrote, "we conclude that the potential harm to the public's interests outweighs the injury to Stop Rail and, therefore, the (petition) must be denied."

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