Fun with State Ballot Laws

By Stephen Adams

by Flickr user dreamagicjp

We all envision state employment and service as a humdrum kind of life, complete with triplicate forms and staid office buildings. It’s the 1984 of the legal realm, where the status quo prevails, and we all wear metaphorical matching suits while learning about our doubleplusgood state statutes.

But not in Hawaii.

Leave it to a state with a festive, colorful shirt to break the monotony of state election laws. This week, after a two month back-and-forth with Arizona Secretary of State Ken Bennett, Hawaii has again verified President Obama’s long-form birth certificate, this time after providing us all with a lesson how to deal with those who make our day oh-so-interesting.

Ken Bennett, presumably under pressure from an apparently-whopping 1,200 constituents in Arizona, started a state ballot ordeal by requesting that Hawaii verify President Obama’s birth certificate yet again, even after Hawaii had done so multiple times. These requests were so numerous to the state that a special statute was passed to allow the state to disregard certain requests.

Talking Points Memo obtained, through a FOIA request, emails sent from Bennett and Jill Nagamine, Deputy Attorney General for the state of Hawaii; and they can be read here. The emails show us two main tactics in dealing with testy folks: 1) stalling, and 2) using the law to make them work for it.

Could Hawaii have just verified the birth certificate and made Bennett (and those 1,200 birthers) happy? Probably, but what’s the fun in that?

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