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Book Review: Stealing Elections

Stealing Elections: How Voter Fraud Threatens Our Democracy, by John Fund, (2004), covers voter fraud scandals in the United States. Hawaii gets a whole chapter, “Tropical Tammany.”

Rating: 5 stars (out of 5)
Fund, a frequent visitor to Hawaii, writes for the Wall Street Journal’s and has written on voter fraud and election irregularities for the Wall Street Journal, the New Republic and other publications. For his chapter on Hawaii, he interviewed Governor Linda Lingle, Malia Zimmerman of Hawaii Reporter and Senator Colleen Hanabusa (Waianae, Nanakuli, Lualualei and Makaha areas of the island of Oahu and the current Hawaii senate president), among others.

One of his memorable quotes in the book is that the U.S. has "a haphazard, fraud-prone election system befitting an emerging Third World country rather than the world's leading democracy." (in Introduction).

Another one is, “A one-party machine in Hawaii intimidates critics and journalists who question its vote harvesting among noncitizens. (in Introduction)

In Chapter Seven, “Tropical Tammany,” Fund writes that Hawaii has the worst voter turnout rate in the country. But that is not news to those of us who live here.

He writes that when Ben Cayetano was governor (1994-2002), he said publicly that his philosophy was to “punish your enemies and reward your friends,” and Ben acted out that credo, “showering his closest friends with generous non-bid contracts and aggressively using the power of the government to put enemies out of business.” Fund follows with some specific instances.

For example, Cayetano had Malia Zimmerman, an investigative reporter, fired from Pacific Business News because he didn’t like her articles on alleged retributions by him against those he regarded as political enemies. These included a number of people who said that they were being harassed and intimidated through investigations by the Hawaii Occupational Safety and Health Division of the Department of Labor and Industrial Relations, the state attorney general, the state Department of Taxation, and the Department of Health’s inspection division.

After losing her job, Malia went on to co-found Hawaii Reporter in 2002 and to write memorable stories, many of which were largely ignored by the rest of Hawaii’s mass media, such as the Masumi Murasaki case. Many felt that Malia's series of investigative articles on the case resulted in the 2004 defeat of Honolulu mayoral candidate Duke Bainum by Mufi Hanneman in a very close race.

Other topics: some of Dwayne Yoshina’s performance as Hawaii’s Chief Elections Officer at the Office of Elections; noncitizens and their supporters claiming in the local media and elsewhere that they should be allowed to vote (this is not as uncommon as you might think); Hawaii’s experience with voting machines; illegal voter registrations; and fraudulent absentee ballots.

To give you the gist of the chapter, the last sentence in it calls Hawaii “an electoral bamboo republic.”