Hawaii incumbents face new election challenge

Hawaii incumbents face new election challenge
Dan Boylan
Dan Boylan

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - The primary election is 17 days away, and voters and candidates face added challenges this year. Incumbents typically enjoy an advantage during elections, but with reapportionment and redistricting, some politicians are going head-to-head. Campaign signs across the state reflect many familiar names as well as some new ones.

"When reapportionment and redistricting takes place, that's the time to go cause there's likely to not be an incumbent, or an incumbent whose district has changed and they have to campaign in areas that they're not accustomed to," explained Midweek columnist and political analyst Dan Boylan.

Reapportionment takes place every 10 years. New district lines have also been drawn.

"It's to equalize the districts so that each district has roughly the same amount of voters in it," said chief election officer Scott Nago.

"Population has risen on the neighbor islands. For example, the Big Island is gaining a Senate seat. Honolulu seats are moving west on Oahu cause population is moving west," Boylan said.

All 76 seats in the state legislature are up for grabs. A few incumbents are going up against each other. On the House side, matchups include Democrats Pono Chong and Jessica Wooley, as well as Heather Giugni and K. Mark Takai. On the Senate side, Carol Fukunaga and Brian Taniguchi are facing off.

"They've both been in a long time, many years. They have a lot of institutional memory. They understand lawmaking, and one of them has gotta go because they're running against each other," said Boylan.

Voter registration is up this year. Roughly 687,000 people have signed up for the primary election, which is up about 3,000 from 2010. Turnout in Hawaii is typically low. In the primary two years ago, only about 43% of registered voters actually cast ballots.

"I think turnout will be high because reapportionment has opened up districts and there are more contests in which there's a possibility of either new blood or old blood coming back," said Boylan.

The Office of Elections is reminding voters to check their yellow cards since their polling place may have changed. Also, 400 precinct officials are still needed to staff the sites on election day.

*** If you need help finding your polling place, click HERE.

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