Voting Rights in Hawai‘i

let-people-vote-crThis guide is general in nature and not intended to be legal advice. For legal advice consult your attorney. Updated July 16, 2018

Printable version (legal sized paper, PDF): voting_rights2018


2018 ELECTION DATES AND DEADLINES

Election Day:

  • Primary: Saturday, August 11
  • General: Tuesday, November 6

Voter Registration Deadline:

  • Primary: Thursday, July 12
  • General: Tuesday, October 9

Mail Ballot Request Deadline:

  • Primary: Saturday, August 4
  • General: Tuesday, October 30

Early Walk In Voting:

  • Primary: Monday, July 30 – Thursday, August 9
  • General: Tuesday, October 23 – Saturday, November 3

VOTING RIGHTS ARE CIVIL RIGHTS

Aloha! The right to vote is fundamental, and the American Civil Liberties Union (“ACLU”) works throughout the nation to defend it. This Hawai‘i-specific Voting Rights Guide is for the 2018 elections. Established in 1965, the ACLU of Hawai‘i works in the courts, with lawmakers, and in our communities to advance and protect the rights guaranteed in the U.S. & Hawai‘i Constitutions. The ACLU is strictly non-partisan and never endorses candidates or parties. This guide was last updated on June 26, 2018.

In a democratic nation, voting is a right, not a privilege! Attempts to suppress voters’ rights, often through discriminatory practices, have made it all the more important for us all to know and defend our right to vote! Vote to empower yourself, your family and your community. Vote so that the needs of your community are addressed by the government. Vote because your voice is important and deserves to be heard.

As a Hawai‘i resident, you have the right to:

  • Vote, either in person or through an absentee ballot, as long as you are properly registered.
  • Register and re-register (if you moved or legally changed your name) by mail or online prior to the registration deadline. However, if you miss the mail registration deadline, you may have to register in person at an Early Walk In Voting location or at your polling place on election day.
  • Vote without providing a driver’s license or other government-issued identification card (unless you are a first-time voter who did not show I.D. while registering).
  • Vote for anyone you want. No one has the right to force, manipulate, or review your vote! You have the right to make your own voting decisions in secret. During Primary Elections, however, you have to choose one political party on your ballot and select only candidates from that political party.
  • Register and vote early at Early Walk In Voting locations.
  • Get another ballot if you make a mistake.
  • Leave work for a maximum of 2 hours for the sole purpose of voting on Election Day if it is not possible for you to vote before or after your scheduled shift.
  • Be provided with appropriate accommodation at the polls if you are disabled. If you wish, you may bring someone with you in the polling booth to assist.
  • Challenge decisions of the county clerk or precinct official.
  • Challenge another person’s right to vote on the basis of identity and/or residency.
  • Register and vote if you are homeless so long as you meet the requirements to vote (U.S. citizen, Hawaiʻi resident, over 18) – your housing status does not affect your right to vote. You may register and vote whether homeless, permanently or temporarily housed, or if you are living in a shelter, halfway house, or any other non-permanent housing.

If you have questions about sign-waving and other free speech activities, please see our First Amendment Toolkit or visit www.acluhi.org.

Can I vote in Hawai‘i? Yes, so long as:

  • You are a Hawaiʻi resident
  • You are a U.S. citizen
  • You are at least 18 years old (or will be at the time of election – you can pre-register at the age of 16 but cannot vote until you are 18)

What if I’m nearly 18? You can pre-register to vote at sixteen (16) years of age. Upon reaching eighteen (18) years of age, you will be automatically registered. For more information about the rights of youth up to the age of 18 in Hawaiʻi, visit our Youth Rights Guide!


GETTING REGISTERED

Registering to vote If this is your first time voting, or if you have moved since the last election, you can register or re-register in any of the following ways:

Online: Visit www.olvr.hawaii.gov. You can also use this website to:

  • Update your existing voter registration
  • Confirm your voter registration address
  • Request to vote by mail

Mail: Print and submit a completed Hawaiʻi Absentee Application to vote by mail in a specific election cyle. If you are already registered and would like to receive mail-in ballots for all future elections (also called absentee ballots), you can fill out a Voter Registration & Permanent Absentee Application.

  • If you are mailing in your application, you will be asked to provide a photocopy of physical identification. The following are acceptable forms of ID:
    • Hawaiʻi Driver License
    • Hawaiʻi State ID
    • Military ID
    • Passport
    • Current utility bill, bank statement, government check, paycheck, or other government issued document showing name and address
  • If you do not provide proof of identification with your application, you will be required to do so at you polling place or with the mail-in ballot that you will receive from your Clerk’s Office approximately twenty (20) days before the election.
  • Online applications and Permanent Absentee applications must be submitted by:
    • Primary: Thursday, July 12
    • General: Tuesday, October 9

In-person: Submit your application in person at your Office of Elections or County Clerk’s Office. You may also register to vote when you apply for a driver’s license at the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV).

  • Pre-printed applications are available at any of the following locations:
    • Office of Elections
    • County Clerk’s Offices
    • State Libraries
    • U.S. Post Offices
    • Most State Agencies
    • Satellite City Halls

For further information about voter registration, visit: https://elections.hawaii.gov/voters/registration/

What if I miss the application deadline? Do not worry! You can still register to vote in one of the following ways:

  • Early Walk-In Voting
    • Late registration is available at Early Walk-In Voting locations in your county during the following dates::
    • Primary: July 30 – August 9
    • General: October 23 – November 3
  • Election Day Registration – NEW FOR 2018!

    • You can register in person, submit an absentee ballot, or get a paper ballot at your polling place on Election Day. Use the Find My Polling Place Locator to locate your polling place.
    • Polls generally open from 7:00 a.m. – 6:00 p.m. However, anyone in line at 6:00 pm will still be allowed to vote.

What if I do not have a fixed address (homeless/houseless)?  You can register and vote, even if you do not have a permanent address. Here is how you can fill in the spaces for “where you live” and “mailing address:”

  • Where you live: if you are homeless, where you live could be as simple as “the bench at the Ewa end of Ala Moana park.”  a line on the form will allow you to put in a general description of where you live. 
  • Mailing address: you must provide a mailing address also, so the office of elections can send you your (precinct) cards. However, this could be anywhere – a P.O. box, a friend or family member’s house, etc. Many shelters allow residents to use their address as well. 

For further information, please see our Know Your Rights Guide.

What if I have moved or changed my name? If you have moved or changed your name since the last time you voted, you must re-register. See above for ways to register and registration deadlines.

How do I know whether I am registered? If you do not know your current registration status, you may call the Office of Elections at (808) 453- 8683, or visit https://olvr.hawaii.gov/


VOTING

Where do I vote? Registered voters will be notified of their polling location via a yellow Notice of Voter Registration and Address Confirmation (NVRAC) card. You may not vote at another polling location, but you may drop off an absentee ballot at any polling location.

If you did not receive an NVRAC card with your polling location, you may not be properly registered and you should contact the Office of Elections or your Clerk’s Office.

Voting by mail? Mail-in ballots must be received by the close of polls on election day. A completed and sealed absentee ballot can be dropped off by anyone (even if not the voter) at any polling place anywhere on the island. Don’t forget, however, that the voter must sign the outside of the ballot!

Do I have to show photo ID? No, so long as you are properly registered to vote and have voted in the past. If you do not have photo or other identification, you will be asked to provide your birthday and residence address (or area if you do not have an address) to corroborate the information provided in the poll book. If a poll worker is unfamiliar with this process and tries to stop you from voting because you do not have a photo ID, ask to speak with a Voter Assistance Official. If that person is unable or unwilling to help you, ask them to contact the Office of Elections hotline.

If it is your first time voting, and you registered without showing identification, you are required to show proof of identification, which may include: a state-issued driver’s license or photo ID card, passport, current utility bill, bank statement, government check, paycheck, or other government document showing your name and address.

Can I get a ballot in my native language? Ballots are available in English, Japanese, Chinese, and Ilocano. You may bring a person of your choice into the polling booth with you to help you with translation.

What if I have a disability?  Polling locations strive to be accessible to all voters, and measures are taken to ensure that a variety of disability accommodations are available. A variety of assistive devices for the hearing, sight, or mobility impaired are available at the polling station. Most polling places are set up to allow curbside voting for persons with disabilities.

To request curbside assistance, please honk your horn when you drive up, or have someone come in and notify the Voter Assistance Official that someone is requesting curbside voting assistance. If you have any concerns about disability accommodations, please contact the Office of Elections.

What if I need help in the voting booth?  Any voter may bring any helper in the polling booth with them, with the exception of their employer or agent of their employer union. Poll workers can help in the polling booth, provided that there are 2 poll workers present and the poll workers are not of the same political affiliation.

What if I am transgender? You have the right to vote even if you cannot provide photo identification or if you have multiple forms of ID with different gender designations. So long as you are properly registered to vote, you cannot be denied a ballot because the poll worker does not believe that your name, dress, or appearance “match” the gender listed on your ID.

You should be treated with respect and courtesy at the polling place by poll workers – no questions about your gender expression, body, or medical treatment are ever appropriate. Remember, poll workers’ only job is to ensure that the person presenting themselves to vote is the registered voter in their records. Feel free to ask the poll book worker to consult the “Voter Assistance Official” at the precinct or the Precinct Chair if there is any concern.

How do I find out about the candidates?  Visit candidate websites, attend candidate debates and fora, and see if organizations you support also do any candidate assessments or make any endorsements (the ACLU of Hawai‘i is non-partisan and never endorses candidates).

What if I’ve been convicted of a crime? You cannot vote if you are currently serving a prison sentence for a felony conviction. The ACLU would like to change that. Watch our website or email our Legislative Program for breaking updates as we work on this and other important local issues.

If convicted of a crime, you can vote:

  • If you have been charged with a felony crime and are out on bail, but have not  been convicted;
  • If you are an incarcerated pre-trial detainee;
  • If you are on parole or probation for a felony conviction. You regain your right to vote as soon as you complete your jail or prison sentence, but you still must (re)register;
  • If you are currently incarcerated for a misdemeanor conviction.

What if I don’t have an address? You can vote even if you don’t have a fixed address. See information here: https://acluhi.org/homelessness-in-the-city-county-of-honolulu-know-your-rights/#action


MORE INFORMATION

Has your right to vote been violated?  Use the web form found at www.acluhi.org (see “Need Legal Help?”) or write to: ACLU of Hawai‘i, P.O. Box 3410, Honolulu, HI 96801.

You can also submit voting-related complaints to the Hawai‘i State Office of Elections at 802 Lehua Ave., Pearl City, HI 96782 or elections@hawaii.gov

 

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