Student Voting Guide | Hawaii

August 15, 2014

This student voting guide explains the laws for the state of Hawaii. If you wish to vote from your school address, check the student voting guide for the state where you attend school. If you want to cast an absentee ballot in your home state, check the student voting guide for that state.

The Brennan Center is committed to giving students as much information as possible to help you exercise your constitutional right to vote. More than ever in recent history, changes to voting laws are being implemented in ways that can affect your ability to make your vote count. In addition to the content you will find in this Student Voting Guide, we continue to track passed and pending voting law changes here. While we are working to give you up-to-date information, we urge you to be proactive! In order to ensure you have all the information you need before casting your vote, you should also check with your state and local election officials for information about additional requirements or regulations.

This voting guide was last updated August 15, 2014.


You must be 18 to vote in Hawaii, but you may register to vote at any point after you turn 16 and you will be able to vote in all elections that take place after you turn 18.[1] If you have a felony conviction, it may affect your right to vote.[2] You should check with local election officials to see how your voting eligibility may be affected.

The application to register to vote in Hawaii is available here. You may file the application in person or by mailing the completed application to your local county clerk. The deadline to register to vote is 4:30 p.m. 30 days before Election Day (if the 30th day is a weekend or holiday, the deadline falls on the next work day).[3] For example, for the 2014 Midterm General Election on Tuesday, November 4, the registration deadline falls on October 6. If you register by mail, you must postmark your application by this deadline.[4] First-time Hawaii voters who register by mail should note the federal identification (“ID”) requirements in the “Identification” section below.

If you are already registered to vote in Hawaii and move either from one precinct to another or from one county to another, you must change your address by filling out a new registration form.[5]

Hawaii has an ‘open primary’ such that you do not need to declare your party before voting in that party’s primary (but you can only vote in the primary of one party each election).[6]


At School. Students can establish residency in Hawaii if they have a present intention to remain at their Hawaii school address for the time being, and they intend to make it their principal home.[7] Any other interpretation of the residency laws is unconstitutional.[8]

At Home. Students who lived in Hawaii before moving to another state for school, and who wish to establish or keep their Hawaii voting residency (i.e. at the parents’ address), should have no problem doing so unless they have already registered to vote in another state.

Hawaii allows students to keep their voting residency even if they move out of the county or state to attend school.[9] The only way you might lose this residency is if you “abandon” it by asserting residency in a new state. Under Hawaii law, casting a ballot in another state is an abandonment of Hawaii residency.[10] Students who have voted in other states will have to re-establish Hawaii residency and re-register to vote before casting a ballot.

Voting in Hawaii is considered a declaration of residency, making you subject to other laws that govern state residents.[11]

Moving within Hawaii. If you move from one precinct to another and don’t correct your registration (by re-registering), you can still vote in your old precinct as long as you correct your registration for the next election.[12]

Challenges to Residency. The county clerk has the initial discretion to approve or disapprove your registration on the basis of your residency, and can demand that you show proof of your residency.[13] If the clerk refuses to register you prior to an election, you can appeal to the county board of registration as long as you do so within 10 days of receiving notice of refusal of registration.[14] If the board rules against you, you can then file an appeal with a court.[15]

Any registered voter may challenge your registration prior to Election Day by submitting a challenge in writing stating the reasons for the challenge to the county clerk.[16] The clerk must notify you that your registration has been challenged and should investigate and rule on the challenge as soon as possible.[17] You may appeal the clerk’s adverse decision to the board of registration, and then to a court if the board rules against you. If the election happens while this challenge is pending, you can vote by provisional ballot.[18]

Any registered voter can also challenge your eligibility on the basis of residency on Election Day. The challenge should be considered and decided immediately by officials at the polling place.[19] If an official determines you are not eligible to vote, you may still cast a provisional ballot on Election Day and then appeal the challenge to your eligibility.[20]


Federal law requires that first-time Hawaii voters who register by mail and do not have their identity verified by the state must provide ID, either when voting in person or by submitting a copy of their ID with their absentee ballot.[21] Sufficient proof of identity includes any current and valid photo ID, or a copy of a current utility bill, bank statement, government check, paycheck, or other government document that shows the name and address of the voter.[22]

Generally other voters will not have to show ID at the polls, and will be asked to sign the register. However, voting officials have the authority to request ID from any voter on Election Day.[23] Although state law does not specify what form that identification should take, the Elections Commission website instructs voters to bring a signed picture ID to the polls.[24]

Absentee Voting

The Hawaii absentee ballot application is available here. Any registered voter may vote absentee in Hawaii.[25]

You may either print this application and mail it to your local county clerk, or drop it off in person. Your absentee ballot application must be received by your county clerk by 4:30 p.m. seven days before Election Day.[26]

If you do not receive your ballot within 5 days of the election, you can request that it be faxed to you.[27] Completed ballots must be mailed and received, or delivered by hand, to your local county clerk before polls close on Election Day.[28]

Early Voting

As a convenience to eligible voters, Hawaii has early voting, which begins ten working days before an election and ends on the Saturday before Election Day.[29] Go to the Elections Commission website to see specific early voting dates for the 2014 primary and general election. You should check with your county elections office for the exact dates, times, and locations for early voting.

Last Updated August 15, 2014

[1] Haw. Rev. Stat. § 11-12(b).

[2] Haw. Rev. Stat. § 831-2(a)(1), see also Factsheet: Impact of a Felony Conviction on One’s Electoral Rights, State of Hawaii Office of Elections, at, accessed June 13, 2014.

[3] Haw. Rev. Stat. § 11-24(a).

[4] Haw. Rev. Stat. § 11-16(a) (2012).

[5] Haw. Rev. Stat. §§ 11-18, see also,.

[6] See Haw. Rev. Stat. § 12-31.

[7] See Haw. Rev. Stat. § 11-13(1).

[8] See Dunn v. Blumstein, 405 U.S. 330, 330 (1972); Williams v. Salerno, 792 F.2d 323, 328 (2d Cir. 1986).

[9] Haw. Rev. Stat. § 11-13(5).

[10] Haw. Rev. Stat. § 11-13(7).

[11] Haw. Rev. Stat. § 11-15(a)(5) (“[In a voter’s affidavit of registration, the voter must swear or affirm] (5) [t]hat the residence stated in the affidavit is not simply because of the person's presence in the State, but that the residence was acquired with the intent to make Hawaii the person's legal residence with all the accompanying obligations therein").

[12] Haw. Rev. Stat. § 11-21(e).

[13] Haw. Rev. Stat. § 11-15(b).

[14] Haw. Rev. Stat. § 11-26(b).

[15] Haw. Rev. Stat. § 11-51.

[16] Haw. Rev. Stat. § 11-25(a)

[17] Haw. Rev. Stat. § 11-25(a).

[18] Haw. Rev. Stat. § 11-25(c).

[19] Haw. Rev. Stat. § 11-25(b).

[20] Haw. Rev. Stat. § 11-25(c).

[21] 42 U.S.C. § 15483(b)(2)(A).

[22] See Notice to First Time Voters Who Register to Vote by Mail, Hawaii Elections Commission,,.

[23] Haw. Rev. Stat. § 11-136.

[24] Voting in Hawaii, Hawaii Elections Commission,, accessed June 13, 2014.

[25] Haw. Rev. Stat. § 15-2; Haw. Code. R. § 3-174-3(a)..

[26] Haw. Rev. Stat. § 15-4(a).

[27] Haw. Rev. Stat. § 15-5(b).

[28] Haw. Rev. Stat. § 15-9(a)(1).

[29] Haw. Rev. Stat. § 15-7 (2012).