Lawyers for the State Office of Elections and Congresswoman Colleen Hanabusa went head-to-head in a Hilo courtroom, arguing over when the more than 6,000 Puna residents should be allowed to vote.
"This case is really about fairness. Fairness in the sense of thousands of Puna residents are just now still struggling to recover from the devastation," said Hanabusa attorney Richard Wardenan.
"This case is about a candidate having a different opinion with the chief elections officer as to when the election should be held," said state attorney John Molay.
Judge Greg Nakamura said that while there is a "lack of common sense to hold the election tomorrow," it must proceed. He says it's not up to the court to interfere -- a point the state championed after the ruling.
"We believe [Hanabusa] did not have the right to speak on behalf of the voters in the Puna District. No one appointed her to be their spokesperson," said Molay.
In the meantime, the U.S. Senate candidates are in Lower Puna. Hanabusa has been handing out supplies. On Thursday, our crews caught up with Sen. Brian Schatz doing the same.
In response to the ruling, Schatz's campaign manager said, "Sen. Schatz continues to focus his energies on helping the people of Puna to recover, and that's what he will do on an ongoing basis. His commitment to recovery in Puna extends beyond the election."
Hanabusa's spokesman said, "We are extremely disappointed for the people of Puna, especially since Judge Nakamura said that holding this election tomorrow lacks 'common sense' and 'shows some insensitivity to the plight of people in Puna.' The judge decided that they did not deserve more time to focus on recovering from the effects of the storm. We will continue to distribute food, water, fruit and ice to those in need but we need people to be aware that there is an election tomorrow."
Hanabusa's attorneys say they are not focused on any further legal action.
The voting will take place on Friday at Keonepoko Elementary. It opens at 7 a.m. and closes at 6 p.m.
A shuttle will be available for Big Island voters to the polls. Click here shuttle information.
Who will win the race for U.S. Senate after the Puna residents vote? Click here to vote in our online poll.
App users, click here to see exact numbers for the Democratic race for U.S. Senate.