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Throw the ballots out or vote again: Waters argues late delivery violated law

HONOLULU (KHON2) - Voters could be heading back to the polls to settle the fight over District 4 of the Honolulu City Council.

Attorney and former state representative Tommy Waters lost to Trevor Ozawa by just 22 votes in the general election in November.

"It's great the Supreme Court is asking the same questions I have," said Waters.

He sees this as a glimmer of hope.

"Whether I win or lose this election, it's going to make the election process better and I think, more fair."

Called into question are 350 mail-in absentee ballots.

Waters says those ballots should have been in the hands of the city clerk by 6 p.m. on election night.

Instead, the ballots were still at the post office.

"How can you be sure the ballots were received before close of polls? That's what the law requires. What happens next? Do you throw out those 350 ballots, or do you accept them?" Waters said.

The election challenge will affect operations for Honolulu City Council.

Ozawa has not been officially sworn to represent District 4.

"Councilmember's Ozawa's district is not represented and the charter calls for nine members. I don't think it's ever happened before," Honolulu city councilwoman Ann Kobayashi said.  "We'll have to really come together. Because there are so many things we have to work on, monster homes, short term rentals, rail, that's a big problem. The bus fare increase. So many things we need to work on."

The council scheduled a meeting for Monday, January 14 at 10 a.m. to discuss temporary titles and positions as the fight for the District 4 seat continues.

Though he declined an interview, Ozawa sent KHON2 the following statement:

"The written record submitted to the Hawaii Supreme Court establishes that all votes properly cast were counted and the people of District IV elected their Councilmember."

"The Hawaii Supreme Court has scheduled oral argument on the matter, and I look forward to participating in the argument next week and then moving forward with my continued service as Councilmember for District 4."


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