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No Independent Candidate Polls Enough Votes in Hawaii Primary to Advance to General Election Ballot

Hawaii held its partisan primaries on Saturday, August 9. None of the nine independent candidates polled enough votes in the open primary to advance to the general election.

Hawaii is the only state that does not have a top-two primary, but which forces all candidates, even independents, to run in the primary. Hawaii law is very tough on independent candidates. In the primary, an independent cannot run in the general election unless he or she either polls 10% of the votes cast for that particular office, or unless the independent outpolls a candidate who won a partisan primary for the same office.

Often, independent candidates can meet the primary vote test if there is a Libertarian running for the same office in the primary, because generally few Hawaii voters choose a Libertarian primary ballot. But in 2014, more voters than usual chose a Libertarian primary ballot and voted for the various unopposed Libertarians running in that primary.

The two independents running for U.S. Senate were Joy Allison, who got 373 primary votes, and Arturo Reyes, who got 179 primary votes. Unfortunately for them, the Libertarian running for U.S. Senate in the Libertarian primary got 559 votes, greater than either of them, so they cannot run in November.

For Governor, none of the four independents polled as many primary votes as the Libertarian running for Governor, Jeff Davis.

For State House district 5, the independent also failed to get as many votes as the Libertarian. For U.S. House, First District, no Libertarian ran, so the independents running for U.S. House in that district had an even tougher job, to try to outpoll the Democratic winner and the Republican winner, and they were not able to come close to doing that. Therefore, not a single independent candidate advanced. Here is a link to the unofficial primary election returns. Independent candidates have an “N” next to their name in the returns; this stands for “nonpartisan.” Candidates with an “I” were running in the Independent Party primary.

Candidates in partisan primaries don’t have a minimum vote test; they just each need to outpoll any other candidate running in the same party primary for the same office. Independent candidates have filed lawsuits against the law in both federal and state court, but have never succeeded in winning such a lawsuit. But if the Democratic Party of Hawaii wins its lawsuit against the open primary, the state will be forced to come up with a different primary system that may be better for independent candidates. Hawaii has no presidential primary so none of what is said in this post about independent candidates relates to independent presidential candidates.

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