SHAKA submits signatures

The Maui County Clerk’s Office has 10 days to verify 9,376 additional signatures submitted Tuesday in support of a citizens’ initiative for a moratorium on genetically modified organisms in Maui County.

SHAKA Movement submitted the additional signatures after about half were invalidated from the group’s initial submission of more than 9,700 signatures last month.

To get the initiative on the Nov. 4 general election ballot, 8,465 valid signatures of registered Maui County voters are needed. So far, the group has gathered 4,720 valid signatures and needs another 3,745 for the initiative to go forward this year.

After turning in petitions containing the additional 9,376 signatures Tuesday, SHAKA Movement spokesman Bruce Douglas said the group was confident that it had met the goal.

Even if a similar number of signatures were found to be invalid as in the first submission, the number of valid signatures would exceed the requirement, Douglas said.

About 50 people gathered on the lawn fronting the county building Tuesday afternoon when petitions were turned in to the group. The petitions were taken to the clerk’s office later Tuesday afternoon.

“The work begins tonight and into the evening,” said Maui County Clerk Danny Mateo.

He said the office had 45 days to validate signatures in the initial submission.

Now, with only 10 days to do the validating of a similar number of signatures, “We already have people scheduled for evening and weekend work,” Mateo said.

If the clerk’s office determines the signature requirement has been met, a proposed ordinance would be forwarded to the County Council for review, Mateo said. The council has 60 days to review and act on the proposal. If the council does not approve the proposal, it would be returned to the clerk’s office and prepared for the ballot.

Douglas said SHAKA Movement wasn’t challenging the finding that 52 percent of signatures were invalid in the first batch submitted.

“We did our own verification and found a similar number to what the county said were bad,” Douglas said.

Problems cited by the county clerk included duplicate signatures, insufficient or incorrect information and illegible handwriting. Some people were not registered to vote in Maui County.

To collect the additional signatures, supporters did more door-to-door campaigning in Wailuku, Kahului and Kihei, Douglas said.

SHAKA stands for “Sustainable Hawaiian Agriculture for Keiki and the Aina.”