More than 85,000 Maui County residents are registered to vote in the upcoming primary on Saturday, Aug. 9. A staffer at the Hawai'i State Office of Elections put the exact figure at 85,581 as of the July 10 primary registration cut-off date. This figure is up slightly from the total of 84,042 in the 2012 primary.
The good news is the local registration is at an all time high, but if history is any indicator, those who will actually cast a ballot will be a far smaller number.
In the last five primary elections, voter turnout never topped the 35.7 percent figure reached in 2006. It has fallen as low as 25.6 percent in the primary of 2008. In more general terms, that means that only between one in three and one in four registered voters actually voted in the most recent primaries. No matter what the registration figures totaled, those who actually cast ballots were never numerically higher than the 28,870 recorded in the 2010 primary. (See "Maui County Voter Registration & Turnout" sidebar for primary and general election statistics for 2004 through 2014.)
Maui County Voter Registration & Turn Out
Primary & General Elections from 2004
So just how many votes did the top vote-getters receive? Here are a few data points from those running in recent contested primary elections, in which all county voters were eligible to cast ballots.
In the primary of 2012, a presidential election year, the total number of those who actually voted in the county was 25,702. Top vote-getters included: Mazie Hirono (D) running for U.S. Senate with 14,740 votes (68.6 percent); Mike Victorino, a nonpartisan candidate for the Wailuku area County Council seat with 15,001 votes (58.4 percent); and Tulsi Gabbard (D) for U.S. House with 11,031 votes (51.3 percent).
In the 2010 primary, a non-presidential year, the actual countywide voter turnout was 28,870. The top vote-getter for contested countywide primaries included: Dan Inouye (D) running for U.S. Senate with 19,994 votes (83.6 percent); Neil Abercrombie (D) running for governor with 12,478 votes (52.3 percent); and Don Couch running in the nonpartisan South Maui County Council race with 11,545 votes (40 percent).
But it's not just big numbers that win local elections. Some relatively small numbers have also enabled candidates to progress from the primary to the general election. That's because some of the races, such as president, U.S. House and U.S. Senate, governor and County Council seats are open to all voters, while others, including all of the state House and state Senate seats specify that the voters must live in a designated geographical region. These are smaller elections and it takes fewer votes to win these races.
Here are a few selected state House of Representative candidate vote totals from the 2012 primary. In contested races, primary winners included Gil Keith-Agaran (D), District 9 (Kahului), with 2,282 votes (57 percent); Angus McKelvey (D), District 10 (Lahaina), with 1,329 votes (66.8 percent); and Kaniela Ing (D), District 11 (Kihei), with 1,108 votes (43.3 percent).
A number of candidates for state House and Senate seats ran unopposed in the 2012 primary. These included: Kyle Yamashita (D), State House District 12 (Upcountry), with 3,686 votes (79 percent); Joe Souki (D), State House District 8 (Wailuku), with 3,606 votes (75.5 percent); Roz Baker (D), State Senate District 6 (West & South Maui), with 3,457 votes (76 percent) and Mele Carroll (D), State House District 13, with 2,683 votes (76.7 percent).
Hardcore fans of Hawai'i's voting records can find more detailed information for the state, the counties, and even the individual precincts broken out by year on the Hawai'i State Office of Elections Website at hawaii.gov/elections/results. All of the figures in this article are taken from these records.
Not too late to register for November 2014 General Election
The registration deadline for the primary election has passed, but it's not too late to register for the General Election to be held on Tuesday, Nov. 4. The deadline to register is Monday, Oct. 6.
A voter must be an American citizen, a resident of the State of Hawai'i and be 18 years old by the day of the election.
For more information on registering to vote in Maui County, call the elections division of the Maui County Clerk's office at 270-7749.