On Hawaii Island, Party Politics Perverts Primary: Ballot Bias Nixes NonPartisans

article top

BY SOLOMON SINGER – At a time when the Democrats and Republicans are under fire for corruption, mismanagement, and poor leadership, you would think nonpartisan would be the winning ticket.

But first, you need to get past the Primary Election. And the election laws, slyly crafted by the parties, are designed to keep out all but party affiliates.


It’s like forced union membership. If you want to work in politics, you need to join their parties.

That doesn’t sit well with me, the nonpartisan candidate running for State House District 4 (Puna). Besides being the youngest candidate in the country at 18 years of age, I am also an idealist. And I refuse to bow to the partisan pressure to join if you want to serve. I want to represent and answer to the people, not to some party.

Some call me naïve to run as a nonpartisan, since no candidate without party affiliation has ever won a race in Hawaii, or even made it past the Primary. This reflects a corrupted Primary election process. I have filed a complaint with the Chief Election Officer concerning gross bias in the Primary ballot.

For example, the Select A Party section on the front of the Primary Election ballot lists, in order, the Libertarian Party, Green Party, Democratic Party, Free Energy Party, Nonpartisan Ballot, Republican Party.

Note that there is no Nonpartisan Party, only a Nonpartisan ballot. Voters are told to select a party, instead of select a ballot. This biases voters against selecting the nonpartisan ballot.

This may also result in voters selecting a party in addition to selecting the nonpartisan ballot, which can disqualify those votes.

There are also very different rules for nonpartisan candidates than party members, which could cost a nonpartisan candidates the election.

There is a minimum number of votes a nonpartisan must get to progress to the General Election. This does not apply to party candidates.

A nonpartisan candidate, even one running unopposed by other nonpartisans, must receive either 10% of the total vote for that race, or must beat at least one party’s winning candidate. An unopposed party candidate, however, automatically gets into the General Election.

The Primary ballot fails to mention that nonpartisan candidates have different and higher standards to meet than party members. This can mislead voters who may support a unopposed nonpartisan candidate, but assume the nonpartisan will automatically get into the General Election and so therefore cast their votes in a more contentious party race.

I am running unopposed by any other nonpartisan for the House seat, and many of my supporters are confused about the election process. Even the Hawaii Tribune Herald newspaper, which did a story on the House Seat race, assumed I would automatically progress to the General Election, apparently either ignorant of the election requirements for nonpartisans, or optimistic about my chances.

Of course, the big question is why a nonpartisan candidate should be forced to run in a Primary Election in the first place. According to the voter’s guide distributed by the Office of Elections, “The Primary Election is a nomination process to choose candidates who will represent the political parties at the General Election.” Obviously, this should not apply to nonpartisans, who, by definition, have no party.

But, again, the rules were made by the parties. And the outcome of these rules is that only the parties have gotten into the General Election. That is, unless I break through the party barrier.

Solomon Singer is a Candidate for State House District 4 in Pahoa, Hawaii