Voting Rights in Hawai‘i

This guide is general in nature and not intended to be legal advice. For legal advice consult your attorney. Updated July 25, 2016

Printable version (legal sized paper, PDF): voting_rights2016-2

2016 Primary Election Voter Registration Deadline: July 14, 2016

2016 Primary Election: August 13, 2016

2016 General Election Voter Registration Deadline: (REVISED) Postmarked no later than Tu., 10/11/16 for MAILED applications. LATE REGISTRATION (in person at any early walk in voter location statewide) is open Fri., 10/25 thru Sat., 11/5.

UPDATE 10/20/16: The ACLU of Hawaii, made aware of the fact that the 2106 postmark deadline for mailed voter registration applications (10/8/16) was also a Federal holiday with no mail service,  and therefore in violation of federal law, wrote a demand letter to the Department of the Attorney General and the Office of Elections on Tuesday, 10/18. On Thursday, 10/20, Attorney General Chin promptly responded by letter, assuring us that election officials will accept voter registration forms postmarked Tuesday, 10/11 – thereby bringing Hawaiiʻs elections calendar into compliance with the National Voter Registration Act. Weʻd like to thank our local voting rights allies, the League of Women Voters Hawaii and Common Cause Hawaii for standing ready to kōkua (support) in case this issue had needed to go to court.

2016 General Election: November 8, 2016

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 demand our right to vote!

Vote to empower yourself, your family and your community. Vote so that the needs of your community are addressed by those in office. 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;
  • 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 matter what – no one has the right to coerce, manipulate, or force your vote! You have the right to make your own voting decisions. The exception to this rule is that in the Primary Election on August 13, 2016, you must choose one political party on your ballot and select only candidates from that political party;
  • Get another ballot if you make a mistake;
  • Vote in secret – you don’t have to tell or show anyone who or what you vote for or what political party you belong to. Again, the exception to this is in the Primary Election, you must select one political party on your ballot and vote within that party.
  • 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;
  • Vote by absentee ballot if you meet the registration deadline;
  • Challenge another person’s right to vote on the basis of identity and/or residency;
  • Leave work for a maximum of 2 hours for the sole purpose of voting on Election Day – only if it is not possible for you to vote before or after your scheduled shift;
  • Challenge decisions of the county clerk or precinct official;
  • Register and vote if you are homeless – As long as you meet the requirements to vote (U.S. citizen, Hawai‘i 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 visit our First Amendment Toolkit.

Registering To Vote

Is this your first time voting? Have you moved since the last election? If you don’t know your current registration status, you may need to register for the first time or re-register. Don’t worry, it’s easy! For information about how to register and vote, click here.


Can I vote in Hawai‘i?

  • So long as you are properly registered to vote;
  • You are a U.S. citizen and resident of Hawaii;
  • You are over the age of 18.

What if I’m nearly 18?

Hawai‘i law allows qualified individuals to pre-register at sixteen (16) years of age. Upon reaching eighteen (18) years of age, they will be automatically registered. For more information about the rights of youth up to the age of 18 in Hawai’i, visit our Youth Rights Guide!

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.

You can vote:

  • If you have been charged with a felony crime and are out on bail, but have not yet 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:

What if I’ve moved or changed my name?

If you moved or changed your name since the last time you voted, you must re-register. However, you may still be able to vote on the day of the election – check in with the Voter Assistance Official at your precinct.

How do I know if I’m registered?

Check with the Office of Elections at (808) 453-8683, or visit


How do I register?

Fill out and submit an Affidavit on Application for Voter Registration via mail or in person to the Office of the County Clerk in your area. The office will send you a postcard when your registration is complete informing you of your designated polling location.

Access forms, instructions, and more information about voter registration at

When is the registration deadline?

  • PRIMARY: Register by July 14, 2016 for August 13, 2016 Primary Election.
  • 2016 General Election Voter Registration Deadline: (REVISED) Postmarked no later than Tu., 10/11/16 for MAILED applications. LATE REGISTRATION (in person at any early walk in voter location statewide) is open Fri., 10/25 thru Sat., 11/5.

What if I miss the deadline?

Generally, you have to register at least 30 days prior to the election to vote in that election. If you register with less than 30 days to go before an election, you won’t be able to vote in that election – but you will be allowed to vote in every election thereafter, so go ahead and register anyway so you’re prepared for next time!


Can I vote before Election Day?

Yes, you can vote before the day of the election by completing an absentee ballot. Mailed Applications for Absentee Voter Ballots must be received by the City/County Clerk at least seven days prior to the election in which you wish to vote.

What is early voting?

“Early voting” means to cast your vote before the day of the election in-person at designated locations or through a mail-in absentee ballot. Early in-person voting locations and information are available here:

How do I vote via absentee ballot?

You can vote in person or by mail. For an absentee ballot application and instructions, click here:

What’s the deadline for returning my absentee ballot?

Any completed and sealed absentee ballot can be dropped off at any polling place anywhere on the island. (Don’t forget to have the voter sign the outside!) Also, you can surrender your absentee ballot and get a paper ballot at your polling place on Election Day if you prefer to vote in person. See the Voter Assistance Official at the polling place for more information.

Can I permanently vote using an absentee ballot?

Yes. Click here for more information:


When is Election Day?

The General Election is Tuesday, November 8, 2016

What time do the polls open?

Polls generally open at 7:00 am and close at 6:00 pm. However, anyone in line at 6:00 pm will be allowed to vote.

Can I take time off from work to vote?

Employees may leave work for a maximum of 2 hours to vote, but only if the employee is not able to arrange to vote before or after a scheduled shift.

Where do I vote?

Look for a yellow card in the mail! Registered voters will be notified of their polling location via a Notice of Voter Registration and Address Confirmation (NVRAC) card with your polling place located on it sent by the County Clerk. 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.

What if I have a disability and my polling place is not accessible?

Polling locations strive to be accessible to all voters, and measures are taken to ensure that a variety of disability accommodations are available.

  • You may bring a helper of your choice to the polling location with you;
  • You can submit an absentee ballot by mail;
  • Most polling places are set up to allow curbside voting for persons with disabilities. To request this, please honk your horn when you drive up.

If you have any concerns about disability accommodations, contact the Office of Elections.

Can I get a ballot in my native language?

Ballots are available in English, and other languages, including Japanese, Chinese, and Ilocano. Check with the Office of Elections for details. You may bring a person of your choice into the polling booth with you to help you with translation.

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, agent of their employer union. Poll workers may provide assistance in the polling booth, provided that there are 2 poll workers present and the poll workers are not of the same political affiliation.

How do I find out more 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).


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 don’t have photo or other identification, you will be asked 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 this is your first time voting, 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 government document that shows your name and address.


  • 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. If you don’t have photo or other identification, you will be asked your birthday and residence address to corroborate the information provided in the poll book.
  • 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.
  • 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.

Want more information?

Has your right to vote been violated? Need more information about how to exercise your right to vote?


ACLU of Hawaii, P.O. Box 3410, Honolulu, HI 96801 or

Hawaii State Office of Elections, 802 Lehua Ave., Pearl City, HI 96782 or

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