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OHA Election – Legal Yes, Fair No

By Steve Morgan / Hui Ho’opakele ‘Aina    

As demonstrated in two consecutive elections, the residents of Molokai have clearly stated that they do not support the leadership abilities of Collette Machado.

The recent general election demonstrated widespread community support for OHA Trustee Candidate- Waipa Purdy. Running against Collette Machado, Purdy received  917 Molokai votes while Machado received  441 local votes. Despite these numbers it was Collette Machado who claimed the victory.

The problem lies in the process itself- Although OHA Trustees are selected to independently represent each of the major islands, constitutional law requires that each elected OHA official represent the same number of people. So how is this accomplished for a less populated island like Molokai? So far the legislative solution in appeasing this legal requirement has been accomplished by holding a uniform statewide election in which all of the OHA candidates are included.

The problems however become obvious. In no way does a statewide ballot assure that the real constituency is represented. Those voting off island may have little or no knowledge of specific Molokai issues yet are granted the ability to vote for the OHA Trustee representing Molokai.

Also, further complicating the vote is the involvement of special interest groups which regularly participate in statewide elections and who often have the ability to deliver large numbers of votes.  Ranging from trade unions to corporate interests, it is common for these types of special interest groups to pledge support for certain candidates, depending on how they feel the candidate will support or benefit their own intentions. This type of lobbying may be common in state and national elections but is not appropriate within the realm of selecting an OHA trustee.

 Waipa Purdy won the Molokai vote by more than a two to one margin and despite this landslide victory, he has been determined the looser. The fact remains that the clear voice of Molokai has been ignored!

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