Essential information for candidates – dry but not horribly so

Today’s missive is about the reality of a primary election in which voters start casting ballots in less than 100 days. That’s right, on or about the first week in July overseas absentee voters will get their ballots, and then shortly thereafter every voter in Hawaii will get their ballot in the mail as well.

If you are a political junky, candidate, or one of those very special people who are helping candidates read on. The rest of you will likely want to turn the page.

For new candidates – I suggest you get moving, get those signs and banners up, and start knocking on doors.

I speak of course to the all-important primary election which is a make-or-break moment for legislative candidates in the House and Senate. For nonpartisan council races, the campaign for many continues on to the general election of November 8th.

Below is a calendar of key dates, election facts, and some historical data mixed together with just light touch of opinion and friendly editorializing.

May 5th – Legislative session ends

Voters and various advocacy organizations will begin preparing their “legislative scorecards” intended to inform voters about legislator actions and inactions. SuperPacs will likewise now begin to prepare their “hit pieces” in anticipation of attacking candidates they hope to defeat, who have failed to live up to their promises.

June 7 – Candidate filing deadline

All serious candidates should have already filed long before this. Candidates filing on the final day will often be those playing games. One such game involves the long-time incumbent announcing on this date they will not be running for reelection. A family member or favored friend then shows up and files on this same day – and as a result, runs unopposed.

June 29 – Deadline for Clerk’s Offices to mail ballots to overseas voters

This means ballots must be printed and prepared for mailing in 22 very short days. An ambitious timeline to say the least. It also means that people start voting in the first week of July.

July 26 – The latest day that voters can receive their Primary Election ballots in the mail. The law says ballots must be received at least 18 days prior to the election.

It’s important to note that this date refers to the final day ballots must be received and NOT the date when most will actually be received.

In 2020, primary election ballots were mailed out to voters on July 14. Consequently, some residents began casting their votes as early as July 17th and 18th, a full three weeks prior to the August 8th 2020 primary.

Of the 406,425 people who voted in the 2020 Hawaii primary election, 400,952 cast their vote using a mail-in ballot. While some preferred to drive their ballot to the elections office to drop it off in person, the majority voted from home via mail.

Pew Research analyzed national voting patterns for the 2020 general election and reported that 76% of mail-in ballot voters returned their ballots at least a week before Election Day.

51% of all registered voters turned out to vote in the 2020 primary election.

Translation: 388,058 ballots were literally left on the table. They presumably simply sat on kitchen tables or in a pile of unopened mail until they were lost or thrown away.

It gets worse, or better if you’re a candidate seeking opportunity. 30% of eligible voters in Hawaii are not even registered, adding several hundred thousand more untapped votes on to that same proverbial kitchen table.

August 1 – Voter service centers open and same-day voter registration begins.

Those voters who prefer to not mail in their ballots may personally drop off ballots and or vote in person. In addition, Hawaii first-time voters may simply walk into the voting center, register, and then vote.

August 13 – Primary election day or the final day to vote

Candidates – this is where you go to find out more:

And, if you hope to be successful, I suggest you not dally further.

About garyhooser

This blog represents my thoughts as an individual person and does not represent the official position of any organization I may be affiliated with. I presently serve as volunteer President of the Hawaii Alliance for Progressive Action (H.A.P.A.) I am the former Vice-Chair of the Democratic Party of Hawaii. In another past life, I was an elected member of the Kauai County Council, a Hawaii State Senator, and Majority Leader, and the Director of Environmental Quality Control for the State of Hawaii - in an even earlier incarnation I was an entrepreneur and small business owner. Yes, I am one of the luckiest guys on the planet. Please visit my website AND sign up for my newsletter (unlike any email newsletter you have ever gotten, of that I am sure) - “Come to the edge.” “We can’t. We’re afraid.” “Come to the edge.” “We can’t. We will fall!” “Come to the edge.” And they came. And he pushed them. And they flew. - Christopher Logue (b.1926)
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