The political battle for the Hawaii governor’s office began early this year when U.S. Rep. Colleen Hanabusa formally announced that she would challenge incumbent David Ige in the Democratic primary.

And while the governor’s race is looking to be the most contentious, the contests for the 1st Congressional District and lieutenant governor have drawn numerous candidates, many with strong name recognition.

The primary election is on Saturday, Aug. 11. Hawaii is the only state that holds its primary election on a Saturday.

The general election is Tuesday, Nov. 6, a date set by federal law and the same throughout the nation. It’s a state holiday in Hawaii.

In Hawaii, the polls are open from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m.

In 1960, 93 percent of Hawaii’s registered voters went to the polls in the general election.

In 2014, the last time we elected a governor, only about 52 percent of the 706,000 people registered to vote in Hawaii that year cast a ballot in the general election. We do slightly better in presidential election years; in 2016 about 58 percent of registered voters voted in the general.

Hawaii has notoriously had one of the lowest voter turnout rates in the country. But in recent years, the Legislature has taken steps to put in place strategies aimed at boosting voter participation. For instance, voters can now register online.

The deadline to register for the Aug. 11 primary is July 12; the deadline to register for the Nov. 6 general election is Oct. 9.

This year is the first year voters can register on Election Day. If you miss the deadline to register for either the primary or the general, you can register at your designated polling place with proper ID or documentation of your residency. And you’ll have to fill out a registration affidavit.

Every election, more Hawaii voters are casting their ballots by mail and voting early, sometimes even several weeks before Election Day. You can find the dates for early voting and the steps and deadline to request an absentee ballot on the State Office of Elections website.

This year, the Legislature came close to implementing a statewide all-mail voting system as a way to increase voter turnout and save potentially hundreds of thousands of dollars every election. But in the last days of the session, lawmakers decided to give test it first by implementing a pilot program on Kauai for the 2020 elections.

The 2018 Races

David Ige was a little-known state senator when he upset Gov. Neil Abercrombie in the 2014 Democratic primary. This year, Ige faces a strong challenge from Colleen Hanabusa, a labor attorney and former state Senate president who has served twice in the U.S. House of Representatives.

For a short while, former state Sen. Clayton Hee was also in the race before dropping out in early June to focus instead on running for his former legislative seat.

In the Republican field, attorney John Carroll, who has repeatedly run for office, faces state Rep. Andria Tupola, the House minority leader, and former Department of Education official Ray L’Heureux.

While Hawaii’s lieutenant governor has little power or influence, several LGs have gone on to serve in higher office. The top Democrats in the race are Kauai Mayor Bernard Carvalho Jr., former Board of Education member Kim Coco Iwamoto, and three state senators: Josh Green, Will Espero and Jill Tokuda. GOP candidates include Marissa Kerns and Jeremy Low.

U.S. Sen. Mazie Hirono, a Democrat, is seeking a second term. Her competitors are not well known.

In the campaign for the 1st Congressional District, which represents greater Honolulu, the leading Democrats are Lt. Gov. Doug Chin, state Sen. Donna Mercado Kim, state Rep. Kaniela Ing, state Rep. Beth Fukumoto, Honolulu City Council Chairman Ernie Martin and former Congressman Ed Case.

In the 2nd Congressional District covering rural Oahu and the neighbor islands, Rep. Tulsi Gabbard is seeking re-election. She is opposed in the Democratic primary by Sherry Alu Campagna, an environmental scientist.

There are also other Democrats and Republicans contending in the aforementioned races, along with several independent and nonpartisan candidates.

In the Legislature, all 51 state House seats are up for election this year along with 12 of the state Senate’s 25 seats. Traditionally, most incumbents have been easily re-elected and the Democratic Party of Hawaii has long dominated both chambers.

Races for county mayors and councils are nonpartisan. A large field of candidates is running for council in all four counties. Derek Kawakami, JoAnn Yukimura and Mel Rapozo are among several experienced politicians seeking to be mayor of Kauai, while Mike Victorino, Elle Cochran and Don Guzman are among the candidates running for Maui mayor.

Trustees for the Office of Hawaiian Affairs are also nonpartisan, and they are also statewide races. Candidates do not have to be Native Hawaiian, nor do voters. Candidates for the 2018 OHA races include incumbents Rowena Akaka, Lei Ahu Isa and John Waihee IV. Challengers include former state Rep. Faye Hanohano, former state Sen. Pohai Ryan, state official William Aila Jr. and former federal official Esther Kiaaina.

In the general election election, voters statewide will be asked if Hawaii should establish a surcharge on investment properties to help fund public education.

Voters will also be asked this question: “Shall there be a convention to propose a revision of or an amendment to the (Hawaii) Constitution?”

Hawaii last held a constitutional convention — or “con con” — in 1978. A con con gives voters the opportunity to bypass the state Legislature and elect delegates in order to convene and consider changes to the Hawaii Constitution.

Civil Beat’s Election Guide

The Hawaii Office of Elections website is the best place to find any information you need about the elections including how and when to register, how to find your polling place and when you can begin casting your ballot.

You can keep up with all of Civil Beat’s coverage as the election season progresses in our Elections 2018 section.

Meanwhile, here are some other resources we’ve put together to help you through the 2018 election:

Unofficial 2018 Primary Election Ballot: Our way to help you keep track of races and candidates in your district. We have once again sent out questionnaires to candidates, asking them to give us their positions on key issues that are particular to the office they’re running for. You can find links to these Q&As on this page.

Ad Watch: A viewer’s guide to campaign videos and political ads. We regularly analyze campaign commercials with an eye toward substance, tone, message and accuracy — whatever you need to know about an ad when you see it online or on TV. The federal government now requires TV stations to report political advertising spending and schedules online.

Cashing In: Tracking political spending through state and federal campaign finance records. We review and analyze the campaign spending reports filed at various times of the year to report who is financing candidates and their campaigns. We look at political action committees and independent expenditure committees, too.

The Civil Beat Poll: We conduct our own independent polls on a variety of topics and issues as election season moves along. Check here to read about what Hawaii thinks about statewide and local races and issues.

Civil Beat Politics: Learn more about candidates and issues by joining our Facebook Group, Civil Beat Politics. We aim to promote civil — yet spirited — discussion of and participation in the 2018 election. You can air your thoughts on campaigns, candidates and issues along with your friends, colleagues and even political rivals. But it’s also a place to connect with others in the community who want to become more active in this year’s elections.

Voter Education And Turnout

League of Women Voters of Hawaii

Pew Charitable Trusts/Research Center

Project Vote Smart

Campaign Finance Resources

Both the state and the federal government impose contribution limits when giving directly to candidates. Money has been flowing to candidates and political committees for the 2018 election. You can follow the money yourself on a number of online campaign and political sites:

Federal candidates and committees:

• Center for Responsive Politics

Federal Election Commission

Campaign Finance Institute

State candidates and committees:

Hawaii Campaign Spending Commission

National Institute on Money In State Politics

Elections Offices Statewide

Hawaii Office of Elections

City and County of Honolulu

Hawaii County

Maui County

Kauai County

Political Parties

Democratic Party of Hawaii

Hawaii Republican Party

Libertarian Party of Hawaii

The Green Party of Hawaii