Hawaii Supreme Court Says State’s Petition-Checking Procedures are Legal

On March 27, the Hawaii Supreme Court ruled that the petition-checking procedures used in 2004 for independent presidential petitions are legal. Peroutka v Cronin, no. 27233. Here is the decision.

The decision is somewhat maddening. Plaintiffs (Michael Peroutka, Constitution Party presidential candidate, and Ralph Nader, independent presidential candidate) had complained that even though the petition requires signers to list their birthdates, the state won’t use the birthdate information to help them find a voter on the rolls. The Court simply said that Hawaii regulations do not require elections officials to use the birthdate.

Plaintiffs had complained that when a signer has bad handwriting, the state simply refused to try to decipher that handwriting. The Court merely quoted the regulations, which say that elections officials “may” disregard signatures with bad handwriting.

Plaintiffs had argued that the same person who is in charge of checking signatures, is also the person who is in charge of hearing an appeal of his own work. The Court merely said there is nothing illegal about that.

The decision is devoid of any discussion of voting rights, or constitutionality. The parallel federal court case over these same issues is still alive, and the federal court is free to issue its own ruling and to disagree with the State Supreme Court. In a parallel situation, the Michigan Supreme Court had ruled on November 21, 2007, that a Michigan state law giving the list of presidential primary voters only to the two major parties is constitutional. That did not stop a U.S. District Court from coming to the opposite conclusion on March 26, 2008.


Hawaii Supreme Court Says State’s Petition-Checking Procedures are Legal — No Comments

  1. Given that Cobb and Badnarik received a combined 3,000 votes in 2004, is it credible that over 7,000 voters said they intended to vote for Nader and another 7,000 said that they intended to vote for Peroutka?

  2. Generally courts have held that ballot access petitions cannot say that the signers “intend to vote” for the listed candidates. The proper language for such petitions is that the signer wants that candidate put on the ballot, for whatever reason.

  3. The law in Hawaii is that petitions must include text that the voter intends to support the candidate.

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