Hawaii holds an open primary on September 20, a Saturday. The state has an open primary system. Traditionally, Hawaii has printed primary ballots for each party, and given a complete set of primary ballots to each voter. The voter decides in the privacy of the voting booth which party’s primary ballot to use, and throws away the ballots of the other parties.
This year, only one primary ballot will be printed. At the top, the voter will be asked which party’s primary is desired. Then, the vote-counting machines will only accept votes cast in that particular party. If a voter happens to vote for candidates in both the Democratic and Republican primaries, the machine will only count the votes that were cast in the party that the voter had chosen at the top of the ballot. Thanks to Thomas Jones for this news.
Some major party leaders are worried that voters will choose the “Independent Party” choice at the top of the ballot. The Independent Party was placed on the ballot to get Ralph Nader on the November ballot, for president. However, the Independent Party does have two candidates running for the state legislature, but since each is unopposed in his own district, the Independent Party primary will not be very exciting. Nevertheless, if a voter chooses “Independent Party” at the top of the primary ballot, and then votes for various Democrats or Republicans, his or her vote won’t count.
Ralph Nader’s ballot access lawsuit against Hawaii from 2004 is still pending in the 9th circuit. It argues that the state cannot require six times more signatures for an independent presidential candidate than an entire new party. In some preliminary meditation talks, Hawaii elections officials said they are considering asking the legislature to reduce the number of signatures for independent presidential candidates. If Hawaii had made such a change before 2008, it wouldn’t be faced with the problem of having an “Independent Party” on the primary ballot.