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DEMOCRATIC PARTY OF HAWAII REMOVED REQUIRED ELIGIBILITY WORDING USED IN 2004 AND 2000
by Sharon Rondeau
(Nov. 19, 2010) — After our original request on July 27, 2010 for the Certificates of Nomination produced by the RNC, DNC, and the Democratic Party of Hawaii to the Hawaii Elections Office, the documents were sent on November 17, 2010. All of them were in PDF format, so no mailing costs were involved.
The release of the documents follows a letter sent to Atty. Linden Joesting of the Office of Information Practices on November 16, 2010 stating that we would be filing a lawsuit if the documents did not arrive within ten business days. The OIP oversees the Open Records Law, or UIPA, in the state of Hawaii and had directed the Elections Office to release the documents in September.
Part 1, “General Provisions and Definitions” of the UIPA states:
In a democracy, the people are vested with the ultimate decision-making power. Government agencies exist to aid the people in the formation and conduct of public policy. Opening up the government processes to public scrutiny and participation is the only viable and reasonable method of protecting the public’s interest. Therefore the legislature declares that it is the policy of this State that the formation and conduct of public policy—the discussions, deliberations, decisions, and action of government agencies—shall be conducted as openly as possible.
The policy of conducting government business as openly as possible must be tempered by a recognition of the right of the people to privacy, as embodied in section 6 and section 7 of Article I of the Constitution of the State of Hawaii.
This chapter shall be applied and construed to promote its underlying purposes and policies, which are to:
(1) Promote the public interest in disclosure;
(2) Provide for accurate, relevant, timely, and complete government records;
(3) Enhance governmental accountability through a general policy of access to government records;
(4) Make government accountable to individuals in the collection, use, and dissemination of information relating to them; and
(5) Balance the individual privacy interest and the public access interest, allowing access unless it would constitute a clearly unwarranted invasion of personal privacy. [L 1988, c 262, pt of §1]
According to the UIPA manual, the law “requires agencies to disclose all ‘government records'” (page 11). The information requested by The Post & Email did not fall under any of the categories of government records which could be withheld from public scrutiny. Regarding a denial of a request for records, the UIPA law states:
(a) A person aggrieved by a denial of access to a government record may bring an action against the agency at any time within two years after the agency denial to compel disclosure.
(c) The agency has the burden of proof to establish justification for nondisclosure.
Since The Post & Email had already appealed to the Office of Information Practices on account of the Elections Office’s lack of cooperation in releasing the records, the next step was a lawsuit in Circuit Court in Honlulu.
Why it took nearly four months to release the documents, which had already been in the public domain for many months and had nothing to do with “personal privacy,” was never explained. Because the documents have historical and research value in determining whether or not any laws were broken in 2008 when Obama was nominated by the Democratic Party of Hawaii and the DNC, The Post & Email wanted to obtain them directly from the Elections Office.
The DNC nomination certificate from the year 2000 bears the signatures of co-chairwomen Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-CA) and Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) as well as a third signature, that of Kathleen M. Vick, Secretary. The wording at the top of the form contains a constitutional eligibility clause for both nominees, Al Gore for President and Joe Lieberman for Vice President. However, it is obvious that the eligibility wording was added to the form mechanically rather than electronically:
So in 2000, the DNC indicated its awareness of the eligibility requirements of Article II, Section 1, clause 5 of the U.S. Constitution.
It would be interesting to obtain the DNC Certificate of Nomination for 1996 to ascertain if any “eligibility” wording was present in a document template or added in at some point in a different typeface as it was in 2000.
In 2004, the DNC dropped any eligibility language in its Certification of Nomination:
However, in 2008, the DNC stated that Barack Obama and Joe Biden were “legally qualified to serve under the provisions of the United States Constitution”:
Hawaii state election law requires each political party to certify its candidates as constitutionally eligible. The statute reads, in part:
(1) In the case of candidates of political parties which have been qualified to place candidates on the primary and general election ballots, the appropriate official of those parties shall file a sworn application with the chief election officer not later than 4:30 p.m. on the sixtieth day prior to the general election, which shall include:
(A) The name and address of each of the two candidates;
(B) A statement that each candidate is legally qualified to serve under the provisions of the United States Constitution;
(C) A statement that the candidates are the duly chosen candidates of both the state and the national party, giving the time, place, and manner of the selection.
Emphasis in boldface was added here by The Post & Email.
In 2000, the Democratic Party of Hawaii adhered to the law by stating that candidates Gore and Lieberman were “legally qualified to serve under the provisions of the United States Constitution…”
The 2008 state party form did not contain that wording:
The Republican National Committee appears to have utilized the same form without any change in wording for both the 2004 and 2008 presidential elections:
The 2004 RNC Certificate of Nominations is of better quality:
The RNC certificates certify separately that both the presidential and vice-presidential candidates are constitutionally eligible to serve.
It would also be interesting to see the Democratic Party of Hawaii’s certification form for the 1996 presidential election as well as the Hawaii Republican Party’s certificates of nomination for 1996, 2000, 2004 and 2008.