Hawaii Elections

| Suggest an Edit

On June 27, 1959, voters in Hawaii ratified a congressional bill making Hawaii the 50th state in the union. “Yes forstatehood” took 94.3 percent of the vote and in August of the same year, President Dwight D. Eisenhower signed a proclamation to make it official.

Since then, Hawaii has held elections in every even-numbered year. The state has a primary on the second Saturday in August and a general election on the first Tuesday after the first Monday in November. Hawaii has also held special elections due to deaths and resignations of officials.

Hawaii elects six individuals for federal positions: the President, Vice President, two members of the U.S. Senate and two members of the U.S. House of Representatives. This gives the state a total of four electoral votes. You can read more about Hawaii’s federal representation here.

For state elections, the office of Governor, Lt. Governor, Senate and House seats are on the ballot. Trustees for the Office of Hawaiian Affairs are also elected.

A 1978 amendment to the state Constitution says, “Any elected public officer shall resign from that office before being eligible as a candidate for another public office, if the term of the office sought begins before the end of the term of the office held.”

There are four counties in Hawaii: the City and County of Honolulu, the County of Hawaii, the County of Kauai, and the County of Maui. For each, the office of Mayor and Council members are on the ballot.

Hawaii elections have historically seen low voter turnout and state officials continue to look for ways to boost voter participation.

Hawaii elections are headed by a chief election officer. The chief election officer is appointed by an Elections Commission, which consists of eight members and a chairperson. Hawaii differs from most states in that it doesn’t have a secretary of state, who usually supervises the election process. Alaska and Utah are the only other states without a secretary of state.

The chief election officer has a series of obligations to fulfill prior to, during and after an election. The most important of these duties is the registration of voters. Chief election officers are instructed to, “Make an effort to equalize registration between districts, with particular effort in those districts in which the chief election officer determines registration is lower than desirable.” Among their other duties, chief election officers must also keep statistics regarding voters, elections and districting. They are responsible for all public education on voter information and act as the engine for every Hawaii election.

The Office of Elections in Honolulu is the home of the chief election officer. The office has a full-time staff as well as seasonal employees.

In Hawaii, voters do not have to pick a party when they register. This means that voters can choose which primary to participate in. However, they may only vote in one primary and not switch between parties for various offices.

Hawaii requires that candidates for statewide and federal offices obtain signatures from 25 registered voters and pay a filing fee to get on the ballot. County elective positions and seats in the Hawaii Legislature require 15 signatures and a filing fee. Filing fees vary depending on the office sought.

Hawaii election law makes it difficult for nonpartisan or independent candidates to move on to the general election. They must secure 10 percent of the total votes cast in all primaries for their race or secure as many votes as one of the nominated party candidates.

On Election Day, Hawaii is split into more than 200 precincts that report back to a central location. Precincts count each ballot cast and record the number for a collection team. Polling places open at 7 a.m. and close at 6 p.m. on the day of the election. To find out more about volunteering for one of these positions, click here.

Once ballots reach the counting center, a receiving team signs for each sealed ballot box from each precinct. The boxes are opened in the presence of two officials, not belonging to the same political party.

Initial results are reported on election night. But ultimately, the chief election officer must prepare a certified statement of the results.

Hawaii Elections
Maui Mayor In Political Hot Water Over Money To Nonprofits Cory Lum/Civil Beat

Maui Mayor In Political Hot Water Over Money To Nonprofits

The state’s campaign finance watchdog says Mayor Alan Arakawa gave thousands of dollars to nonprofits in violation of state law.

Gov. Ige’s Campaign Cash As Low As His Poll Numbers Cory Lum/Civil Beat

Gov. Ige’s Campaign Cash As Low As His Poll Numbers

The incumbent, who has held just three fundraisers, has raised far less than most sitting governors at this point.

Want To Be On Hawaii’s 2020 Presidential Ballot? Show Us Your Taxes Cory Lum/Civil Beat

Want To Be On Hawaii’s 2020 Presidential Ballot? Show Us Your Taxes

An Oahu lawmaker plans legislation that would require all presidential candidates to release their returns.

Who Voted For Donald Trump In Hawaii? Anthony Quintano/Civil Beat

Who Voted For Donald Trump In Hawaii?

A lot of his support came from mostly white, affluent tourism areas. He did especially well on parts of the North Shore.

Hawaii Union Works To Overthrow State House Leaders Cory Lum/Civil Beat

Hawaii Union Works To Overthrow State House Leaders

Through endorsements and contributions, United Public Workers backed old-guard candidates and others who challenged current leadership.

Reader Rep: Was It Fair To Turn Kirk Caldwell Into A Cardboard Cutout? Anthony Quintano/Civil Beat

Reader Rep: Was It Fair To Turn Kirk Caldwell Into A Cardboard Cutout?

Credit Civil Beat for coming up with a creative approach to candidate videos. But the resulting coverage could have been more balanced.

Schatz: Remember Sanders’ Passion When Looking To 2018 Vote Cory Lum/Civil Beat

Schatz: Remember Sanders’ Passion When Looking To 2018 Vote

“We need a progressive counter-revolution,” says the Hawaii senator, who was elected to a full six-year term Tuesday.

Chad Blair: Wednesday-Morning Quarterbacking Hawaii’s Election Ronen Zilberman/Civil Beat

Chad Blair: Wednesday-Morning Quarterbacking Hawaii’s Election

Everyone’s talking about you-know-who, but there were outcomes in local politics also worth keeping top of mind.

Neal Milner: What The Chicago Cubs Can Teach Us About Civility Brandon Schatsiek/Flickr.com

Neal Milner: What The Chicago Cubs Can Teach Us About Civility

The election showed our dark side while the World Series was a glimmer of light about how things ought to be.

Hawaii’s General Election Turnout Dipped To 58.3 Percent This Year Cory Lum/Civil Beat

Hawaii’s General Election Turnout Dipped To 58.3 Percent This Year

The last presidential election in 2012 attracted a 61.9 percent turnout, but that ballot included Hawaii-born Barack Obama.

The Projector: General Election — The Day The Earth Stood Still Eugene Tanner/Civil Beat

The Projector: General Election — The Day The Earth Stood Still

Tuesday began with the usual polling place rituals. By late that night, change had come to America, overshadowing local races.

Voters Split On Making Changes To State Constitution Courtesy: 401(K) 2012/Flickr

Voters Split On Making Changes To State Constitution

Voters narrowly agreed to a measure involving excess state funds but turned down an increase in the financial threshold for jury trials.