HONOLULU — The state Supreme Court said Wednesday that Republican Kurt Fevella won the state Senate seat representing Ewa Beach, Oahu, as it rejected a request by his Democratic opponent Matt LoPresti for a recount of ballots cast Nov. 6.
The unanimous ruling means the state Senate will have an opposition party for the first time in two years. The 25-member chamber was all-Democrat from 2016 to 2018 after longtime Hawaii Kai Republican state Sen. Sam Slom lost to Sen. Stanley Chang.
The court ruled that LoPresti didn’t provide any specific facts or information about mistakes, errors or irregularities that would have changed the outcome of the election.
Fevella won 6,204 votes compared with LoPresti’s 6,087 votes — a difference of just 116 ballots.
LoPresti said the ruling was what everyone expected. “It just goes to show that the standard for getting a recount in the state is impossible to meet,” he said.
Twenty states and the District of Columbia allow for automatic recounts when the margin between winner and loser is narrow enough, the National Conference of State Legislatures says.
“But we don’t even have that,” LoPresti said. He called recounts “a basic protection” for the integrity of elections. In Hawaii, a losing candidate or voter can request a recount, but recounts are seldom approved.
Fevella said he was very happy for himself, his family and his community.
“The people of Ewa Beach were heard loud and clear,” Fevella said.
LoPresti is a Hawaii Pacific University professor who represented Ewa Beach in the state House for two terms.
In August, video from a home security system captured him stealing his primary election opponent’s campaign literature from a resident’s door. The video surfaced shortly before the primary election, when early voting was already well underway.
Fevella has served as chairman of the Ewa Beach Neighborhood Board and co-founded a Lions Club.
By AUDREY McAVOY Associated Press