Of the approximately 72,000 residents now living on Kauai, about 56,284 are adults and eligible to vote during the upcoming primary election on Aug. 11. Yet, during the 2016 primary only 15,273 people actually voted. 10,000 of these votes were cast via early voting and absentee ballots.
Consequently, two-thirds of Kauai’s votes are cast before election day.
Sobering numbers indeed.
Statewide the statistics are similar. There were 252,725 votes cast (also around 35 percent of registered voters) in the 2016 Primary statewide. 156,519 of these votes were counted as early voting and absentee ballots.
This means of course that when the day of the primary actually gets here, the winners and losers have, for most races already been decided by the early absentee voters.
The first absentee ballots are scheduled now to be mailed to overseas voters on Wednesday, June 27, only two weeks from today, with the mailing of the bulk of absentee ballots completed by July 20 (approximate only dates).
In Hawaii, which is ostensibly a single party state dominated by the Democratic Party, Aug. 11 is often the only date that matters. Most partisan races are decided then, with little if any, real general election competition from the Republican or any other political parties.
While it is always possible for a Republican candidate to “pull something out of the hat,” for all intents and purposes, the Aug. 11 Primary election will decide who will be the next governor, the next lieutenant governor, the next members of Congress and just about every seat in the state House and Senate.
On Kauai, this translates to the voters decision as to who will be the next representative for House District #15 where the incumbent James Tokioka is running against Elaine “Queenie” Daligdig and House #16 where incumbent Daynette “Dee” Morikawa is being challenged by Stephanie Iona. District #14 Rep. Nadine Nakamura is unopposed (and you can imagine of course that she is very happy about this).
In addition on Kauai, the top 14 County Council candidates and the top two mayoral candidates who survive the Aug. 11 primary will move on to the general election.
Conventional wisdom would say that for all state races, by July 20 it is all over but the crying.
And it would say that any candidate that is not already in full battle campaign mode by now, will be hard-pressed to finish on top August 11th.
Based on historic numbers the general election dynamics are similar but not as stark as the Primary. During the 2016 general election the Kauai turn-out was 27,225 or 62 percent of registered voters, with 15,221 votes being cast early and absentee. Statewide, the turnout was 437,664 or 58 percent of registered voters, with 234,336 votes cast early and absentee.
Quick recap for Kauai: 15,273 voters showed up in the 2016 primary while 27,225 showed up in the general.
On Aug. 12, all eyes on the Garden Island will then turn to the council and the mayoral races.
The top two finishers (out of presently seven candidates) in the mayor’s race will then go toe to toe, while the top 14 finishers from an initial field of 24 aspiring council candidates will then ramp up their efforts for the home stretch sprint toward the general election of Nov. 6.
While the top 14 council candidates will make the first cut, history shows that rarely does any candidate “move up” from below the #9 slot, into the top seven winners circle. Once in a while candidates will move up from lower rankings in the primary to a winning slot in the general, but this is indeed rare. However, with three incumbents leaving their seats open, anything can happen.
Bottom line for candidates: You are way behind where you need to be, people will be voting very soon so turn it up!
For the rest of us: Take responsibility for your government. Find a candidate you like and support him or her.
Most of all vote! Then remind your neighbors to vote.
Gary Hooser formerly served in the state Senate, where he was majority leader. He also served for eight years on the Kauai County Council and was former director of the state Office of Environmental Quality Control. He serves presently in a volunteer capacity as board president of the Hawaii Alliance for Progressive Action (HAPA) and is executive director of the Pono Hawaii Initiative.