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Charter Commission
Rail Transit News (Astrid Monson)
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League Testifies Before the Charter Commission
Viewpoint
Press Release - Rail
Leaguers "Running to Win" - Eve G. Anderson
Leaguers "Running to Win" - Duke Bainum
Leaguers "Running to Win" - Lois J. Evora
Leaguers "Running to Win" - Benjamin T. Hopkins
Leaguers "Running to Win" - James H. Koshi
Leaguers "Running to Win" - Barbara Marumoto
Leaguers "Running to Win" - George T. Ono
Leaguers "Running to Win" - Jane B. Tatibouet
Leaguers "Running to Win" - Cynthia Thielen
Leaguers "Running to Win" - Michael D. Wilson
Olelo

League Testifies Before the Charter Commission

JULY 21, 1992

Chair Morgado in his letter to the Commission cites a procedure under consideration by this body for voting on amendment proposals. Under this procedure, voters would be given two alternatives: 1) To vote entirely in favor of or against the complete amendment package, or 2) To individually vote against specific proposals with any proposal not receiving a negative vote automatically counted as receiving an affirmative vote.

We are in total agreement with the opinions and reasoning of Chair Morgado regarding the use of this voting procedure.

Section 15-10-3 of our Charter reads, "No amendment or revision of this charter shall be effective unless approved by a majority of the voters voting thereon."

The language is clear. A simple majority of votes can approve or reject an amendment proposal.

Instructing the voter to place a mark only after proposals he rejects with the understanding that all others will be counted as affirmative votes is unfair and dishonest. (We are assuming that the intent for the unmarked boxes will be made clear.) Through errors of omission, carelessness, or indifference, a voter may vote into the Charter, amendments he may not really approve. The reverse procedure of requiring the voter to place a mark after only those amendments he approves with all others counted as negative votes might bring entirely different results. Either method is unacceptable. This procedure might be construed as a means of circumventing the spirit of the Charter's provisions while staying within the legal requirement.

In regard to the first alternative, if the commission had overhauled the Charter with a stated goal in mind, with all the proposed amendments necessary to achieve that goal, approval or rejection of the total package might be the recommended procedure. An example would be an agreement to create a "strong-mayor" city government with all the proposed amendments implementing this, or the grouping together of the amendments in the planning section under one question. However, such was not the case, and the proposals are not necessarily co-dependent nor necessary to achieve stated overriding goal.

If a person chooses not to vote on any of the Charter amendments, nor for or against the total package, is it the intent of the Commission to count his ballot as an affirmative vote for the total package? There may be voters who, because they do not understand the issues or do not have opinions on these, choose to leave it to others to make the decisions. This would be an honest choice. 'Besides, counting blank ballots as affirmative votes may be illegal under our Charter.

We would prefer a ballot which lists all the issues and requires either an affirmative or a negative vote, with a majority of those voted being required for passage or rejection. (Some of the housekeeping amendments could be lumped together requiring only one vote for the group.) This would be in keeping with our Charter requirement and give voters an honest opportunity to accept of reject the proposed amendments.

JULY 21, 1992

This Commission faces the challenging task of educating Oahu's voters on the issues prompting the proposals for amendments to our County Charter and getting them sufficiently interested to study the proposals. You will need to compete with all the hoopla attending the campaigning for county, state and national offices.

Done right, this is a fantastic opportunity for you to encourage our citizens to get acquainted with some of the government processes. The pamphlet that goes into the voters' homes should have the reasons for the suggested changes and pro/con statements on the expected results. Public debate should be encouraged through the media and the Commission might consider providing speakers for meetings of organizations.

We are convinced that the only way to encourage participation in the election by a large number of voters is an active informational program using a variety of methods.

JULY 28, 1992

We strongly oppose any change in the basis for determining the signature requirement for initiative and recall petitions and increasing the percentage for a council member's recall.

In 1990, there were 326,452 registered voters. Of these, 252,602 or roughly 77% voted in the general election. If the basis for the signature requirement is changed, it would result in an increase of 7,385 signatures required for all initiative petitions for the 1992 elections for a total of 32,645 signatures, an increase of more than 29%.

For recalls, a change in the basis and an increase in the percentage required to 30% would mean that a number equal to 40% of the voters who participated in the previous election would need to sign a petition. To win the recall, all you would need is 50% of the votes plus one. To get the recall on the ballot, you would need the equivalent of 40% of those voters to sign the petition. You need to practically guarantee a win in an election to even get on the ballot. That is too high a requirement. It can only be construed as a means of shielding our council members from recall and taking away one of the rights of our citizens.

The principle behind a democratic form of government is that the ultimate power rests with the people. The people delegate power to elected officials to represent them in the creation of laws, institutions and programs to further the welfare and security of the nation and its people. The citizens have the right to retain some of that power to be used when they feel their interests threatened -- power in the form of initiative, referendum and recall.

In our fragmented society divided by race, religion, socio-economic status, etc., the one-man one-vote rule, even with all its positive features dividing us into many, many districts, and the rising influence of power groups with their own selfish agendas, the power of the "vote" -- meaning the power to elect and to reject people to elected office as the ultimate weapon of voters -- has become diluted. With it, we need initiative, referendum and recall.

To change the basis of the signature requirement is the same as raising the percentage under the present basis. Whose interest will this serve? Certainly not the general public's. It is not often that Honolulu's citizens resort to initiative and recall. Are we going to make sure that a successful initiative or recall drive can never be mounted?

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