Hawaii has 850,000 registered voters. Barely 40% voted in the primary

Hawaii’s voter turnout was less impressive than years past, according to the numbers.
Published: Aug. 14, 2022 at 2:11 PM HST|Updated: Aug. 15, 2022 at 8:12 AM HST
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HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Hawaii’s voter turnout dipped in Saturday’s primary election.

The state Office of Elections reports a total turnout of about 338,000 people. That’s 39.6% of those registered to vote.

In the 2020 general election, turnout was significantly higher — with 579,165 ballots cast, or a 69.6%.

HNN Political Analyst Colin Moore says a dip in votes was expected — but he was still hopeful more people would have turned out.

“Hawaii had such extraordinary voter turnout in 2020. It was never going to be like that in this election because midterms are always lower. But I had hoped it was going to be a little bit higher,” Moore said.

For the 2022 primaries, there were more than 853,000 registered voters but only 39.6% of them cast their ballot this year.

“It looks like we’re still going to do better than we did in 2018, but this just goes to show that moving to an all mail-in voting system is not a silver bullet to solve our larger problem of a lack of participation.”

The majority of voters turned in a mail-in ballot. Moore says the state should take a deeper look into why so many mail-in ballots weren’t returned.

“There were over 800,000 ballots that were mailed out, those were sitting on people’s tables at their house, and they decided not to just mail them back in and why is that?” Moore asked. “Well, I don’t know, maybe they forgot? I even wonder sometimes, if we’re mailing them out a little too early.”

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Moore believes negative ads and campaigning may have also dampened voter turnout.

“And it wasn’t just the ads, I think it was the tenor of the gubernatorial race,” said Moore. “I mean, we saw the candidates themselves calling each other things like liar and slumlord, that has that effect on voters.”

Moore said support on the campaign trail is nothing if voters don’t put in the effort to cast a ballot.

He said the turnout affected certain races, including the Democratic race for governor.

“Sylvia Luke definitely benefited from lower voter turnout because the core of her support came from unions,” said Moore. “I think Ikaika (Anderson) is trying to reach out to younger families, people who are a little less likely to turn out so I do think that hurt his race.”

Anderson agreed.

“I believe higher voter turnout would have helped my campaign but regardless of those who did vote, spoke, and my team is going to honor the results and is going to respect the will of the voters,” he said.

Anderson is also calling on lawmakers to explore solutions to improve Hawaii’s voter turnout.

“Policymakers I believe, just need to take a closer look to see exactly what can be done to encourage greater participation,” said Anderson. “But greater participation is best for democracy and the process.”

Numbers also show that Hawaii continues to be a heavily Democratic state with over 240,000 people voting Democrat while over 70,000 voted on the Republican Party ballot.

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