Report Title:

Elections; Write-in Candidates


Amends election laws to allow for write-in candidates in the general election.


H.B. NO.









relating to elections.



SECTION 1. Findings and purpose. The legislature finds that in a democracy that uses a representative form of government, citizens must have a choice when voting for representatives who will govern on their behalf. The principle of majority rule should prevail in elections and not be hindered by their administration.

The legislature further finds that Hawaii is among only five states in the nation that do not allow for write-in candidates in general elections. The other forty-five state allow for space on the ballot for a voter to write in the name and cast a vote for a candidate whose name was not already printed on the ballot. Write-in candidates must still register and be subject to the same ethics and campaign finance and reporting laws as other candidates, but within a shorter timeline, such as fourteen days.

The legislature wishes to empower citizens of Hawaii by expanding their ability to elect candidates who would not otherwise be on the ballot, such as someone who becomes favored as a candidate after the candidates filing deadline, which is over three months before the general election. Also, the cost of special elections can be saved in certain situations, such as twice in California when an incumbent member of the United States Congress died shortly before the general election.

The legislature further finds that providing for write-in candidates can be accommodated using current elections systems. To vote for a write-in candidate, a voter would write in the name of the candidate in the space provided and darken the circle next to the candidate’s name. Elections optical scanning machines and computers would count the number of votes cast for write-in candidates and quickly determine whether a write-in candidate might have won the election. If not, the number of votes for losing write-in candidates would still be counted, but without delaying the announcement of election winners. In other states, write-in candidates have rarely won elections, but should the write-in candidate space on the ballot receive the most votes, elections officials would segregate the write-in candidates and count the votes by some method to determine if a write-in candidate has indeed won the election.

The purpose of this Act is to amend various sections of the elections and campaign finance statutes to allow for write-in candidates in general elections.

SECTION 2. Chapter 11, Hawaii Revised Statutes, is amended by adding a new part to be appropriately designated and to read as follows:


§11-A Write-in voting. Write-in voting shall be permitted in any general election. A voter may cast a write-in vote for a candidate whose name is not printed on the ballot by writing in the candidate's name in the appropriate blank space provided on the ballot. Voters may cast write-in votes only for candidates who have filed declarations pursuant to section 11-B. As used in this section, "write-in" does not include imprinting of any name by rubber stamp or similar device, or the use of preprinted stickers or labels.

§11-B Write-in candidates. Any person who desires to be a write-in candidate shall file a declaration of candidacy with the chief election officer, or the clerk in case of county offices, not later than 4:30 p.m. on the fourteenth calendar day prior to the election; provided that if that day is a Saturday, Sunday, or holiday then the person shall file not later than 4:30 p.m. on the first working day immediately preceding.

§11-C Requirements for write-in candidate. A write-in candidate shall:

(1) File a statement in a form prescribed by the chief election officer containing the following information:

(A) The name of the candidate;

(B) The residence address and county in which the candidate resides;

(C) A certification by the candidate that the candidate will qualify under the law for the office the candidate is seeking;

(D) A certification by a party candidate that the candidate is a member of the party; and

(E) The name the candidate wishes written on the ballot;

(2) Register with the campaign spending commission and comply with the commission's requirements pursuant to this chapter on the same basis as any other candidate;

(3) File documents required of candidates with the appropriate ethics commission;

(4) File a written oath or affirmation as specified in section 12-7; and

(5) Deposit the appropriate filing fee specified in the fee schedule contained in section 12-6, which shall be deposited into the treasury of the State or county, as the case may be, except that the chief election officer or clerk shall waive the filing fee in the case of a person who declares, by affidavit, that the person is indigent.

§11-D Write-in vote count. Write-in votes shall be officially counted by the chief election officer; provided that a write-in vote count shall not delay certification of election results pursuant to section 11-155, unless the total number of write-in votes cast for an office equals or exceeds the number of votes cast for the candidate whose name is printed on the ballot and received the highest number of votes for that office.

§11-E Rules. The chief election officer shall adopt rules pursuant to chapter 91 to implement this part."

SECTION 3. Section 11-112, Hawaii Revised Statutes, is amended by amending subsection (a) to read as follows:

"(a) The ballot shall contain the names of the candidates, their party affiliation or nonpartisanship in partisan election contests, the offices for which they are running, and the district in which the election is being held. Following the names of candidates for each office, there shall be as many blank lines as there are persons to be elected to that office to allow for write-in voting. In multimember races, the ballot shall state that the voter shall not vote for more than the number of seats available or the number of candidates listed where such number is less than the seats available."

SECTION 4. In codifying the new sections added by section 2 of this Act, the revisor of statutes shall substitute appropriate section numbers for the letters used in designating the new sections in this Act.

SECTION 5. New statutory material is underscored.

SECTION 6. This Act shall take effect upon its approval.