Turnout-wise, this year’s primary fared better than the last one with more than 38.6 percent of registered voters casting ballots.

For the third primary election in a row, absentee votes — those votes that include early polling places and mail ballots — made up the majority of ballots returned.

The total turnout was 286,041 voters, with 106,963 of those ballots cast the traditional way at polling places Saturday.

Edwin Hayashi of Kalihi votes during the primary election for his favorite candidates at Lanakila Elementary School, Saturday, Aug. 11, 2018, in Honolulu.
Edwin Hayashi of Kalihi votes at Lanakila Elementary School on Saturday. Eugene Tanner

Elections officials told Civil Beat on Thursday that Hawaii might be on track for a turnout similar to 2016.

Early voting from walk-ins and mail ballots this year totaled 179,078. In 2016, the total absentee count was 156,519. Total voter turnout was 252,725 that year.

Turnout for primary elections in Hawaii have been lower than general elections except for in 1978. Voter turnout has fallen steadily since statehood in 1959 and has plummeted since 1996.

Officials and analysts are still trying to figure out why more people don’t vote.

Gov. David Ige recently signed a law to test an all-mail voting system on Kauai in 2020 in hopes that might help.

Thoughts on this or any other story? Write a Letter to the Editor. Send to news@civilbeat.org and put Letter in the subject line. 200 words max. You need to use your name and city and include a contact phone for verification purposes. And you can still comment on stories on our Facebook page.

Support Civil Beat during the season of giving.

As a small nonprofit newsroom, our mission is powered by readers like you. But did you know that less than 1% of readers donate to Civil Beat?

Give today and support local journalism that helps to inform, empower and connect.

About the Author