Dante Carpenter
Dante Carpenter

The Democratic Party of Hawaii will file a lawsuit in U.S. District Court to seek an injunction against the state of Hawaii over its primary election laws, according to Party chair Dante Carpenter.

As the law stands now, the Democratic Party of Hawaii must allow candidates who claim Democratic Party affiliation to run as Democrats, but the party leadership said that provision “does violence to the party’s own association of freedoms and freedoms of its membership.”

Party leaders want to regulate who can run for office under their party banner.

They also want to have Hawaii return to a closed primary election system to prevent Republicans and independents from crossing over to vote in Democratic primaries. That would mean those voting in the primary election would have to show a party card or prove party affiliation before casting votes for Democrats on the ballot.

Currently, Hawaii law restricts voting on the primary election to candidates in one party, but the voter does not have to prove party affiliation.

The party central committee and leadership notes: “The Democratic Party of Hawaii believes that its primary election, a state imposed mandatory nomination procedure, ought to be open to participation of only such persons as are willing to declare their affiliation with and support of the party, either through public registration to vote, or through maintenance of of membership in the party. The party further believes that the current Constitution and laws of the United States, by maintaining secrecy of affiliation, and by compelling the party to admit to its nomination procedures those who have no interest in it, or actually oppose the interests, values and platform of the party, do violence to the party’s associational freedomrs and the individual freedoms of its membership to define their own political views, guaranteed under the Constitution of the United States.  The State Central Committee and party chairperson shall take the appropriate action to correct this injustice.”

Labor Attorney Tony Gill will proceed with the lawsuit on the party’s behalf.