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Judge rejects Hanabusa’s request to delay Friday election

Democratic nominee for governor David Ige, left, U.S. Rep Colleen Hanabusa, center and Hawaii Lt. Governor Shan Tsutsui, attend the Democratic Unity Breakfast, Sunday, Aug. 10, 2014 in Honolulu. The breakfast is traditionally held after Hawaii elections and is attended by both winners as well as losers. (AP Photo/Marco Garcia)

A Hawaii judge has rejected Rep. Colleen Hanabusa's request to delay Friday's election in two Big Island precincts that were unable to vote in Saturday's primary.

Circuit Court Judge Greg Nakamura ruled Thursday that "the court is not supposed to interfere with an ongoing election process even if it is unconstitutional. So the court is constrained not to grant the injunctive relief," according to the Honolulu Star-Advertiser.

Hanabusa trails Sen. Brian Schatz by fewer than 1,700 votes in the most hotly contested Democratic primary for U.S. Senate in a generation. She filed a lawsuit Wednesday arguing that voters in the two Puna precincts have not had enough time to recover from Tropical Storm Iselle.

The impact of Iselle prevented voters in the Puna precincts from voting on Saturday. After first saying those voters would be able to cast absentee ballots, state elections officials decided to hold an in-person vote on Friday.

Schatz campaign manager Clay Schroers said in a statement after the court's decision that "Senator Schatz continues to focus his energies on helping the people of Puna to recover, and that's what he will do on an ongoing basis. His commitment to recovery in Puna extends beyond the election.”

Hanabusa's campaign did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

With some 6,800 votes up for grabs in the two precincts, Hanabusa will have to win by a wide margin with high turnout to make up her deficit. Turnout was low on Saturday and is expected to be low on Friday, compounding her challenge.

Sean Sullivan has covered national politics for The Washington Post since 2012.



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Sean Sullivan · August 14, 2014

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