Tomorrow’s statewide primary (yes, Saturday)

Welcome to the Friday, August 12, Brew. 

By: Douglas Kronaizl

Here’s what’s in store for you as you start your day:

  1. Previewing Hawaii’s Saturday primary election
  2. Campaigns for four ballot initiatives in Colorado submit signatures
  3. #FridayTrivia: How many states place no restrictions on who can purchase voter file data?

Previewing Hawaii’s Saturday primary election

When you think elections, you might think Tuesdays, but tomorrow, Saturday, Aug. 13, voters in Hawaii will cast their primary ballots. Let’s look at the races on the ballot and how their primaries work.

Most Hawaii voters have already made their primary picks. This is the state’s second cycle using all-mail voting, where every eligible voter receives a ballot in the mail ahead of time. 

Those ballots need to be received by election officials by the time polls close on Aug. 13. Still, the state allows for in-person voting on Election Day at voter service centers, too. Learn more here.

Brian Schatz (D) is running for a second full term in the U.S. Senate and faces a contested primary. Republicans are also holding a primary to select their nominee. Hawaii has not elected a Republican to the Senate since 1970.

The state’s two U.S. House districts are also holding both Democratic and Republican primaries. U.S. Rep. Ed Case (D) is running for re-election in the 1st District, but the 2nd District is open, with U.S. Rep. Kai Kahele (D) instead running for governor.

In addition to the gubernatorial election, Hawaiians will also decide state executive primaries for lieutenant governor and the Office of Hawaiian Affairs. There are contested Democratic and Republican primaries for governor and lieutenant governor. The Office of Hawaiian Affairs is nonpartisan, so every candidate runs on the same ballot without party labels, and the top finishers then advance to the general election.

Hawaii has a Democratic trifecta with the party controlling the governorship and both legislative chambers. Democrats currently hold a 24-1 majority in the Senate and a 47-4 majority in the House, making Hawaii’s legislature the most partisan in the country, with Democrats controlling 93% of all seats.

At the state legislative level, all 51 House and 25 Senate districts are holding elections this year, and voters will have plenty of choices. The number of contested primaries is up 65% this year compared to 2020, with 51 primaries—36 for Democrats and 15 for Republicans—on the ballot.

In most states, nonpartisan or independent candidates file to run on the general election ballot, bypassing the primaries, but in Hawaii, these nonpartisan candidates need to stand for a vote during the primaries.

The state uses a set of calculations to determine whether a nonpartisan candidate can advance to the general election ballot. There are two ways that can happen: the nonpartisan candidate receives votes equal to at least 10% of the votes cast in the primary OR receives “a vote equal to or greater than the lowest vote received by the partisan candidate who was nominated,” according to state documents. 

If a nonpartisan candidate does not meet either of these thresholds, they will not advance to the general election.

Hawaii has open primaries. Elections for all parties are included on the same ballot, so voters must indicate their preference and only vote in one party’s primaries.

If you have primaries coming up, use Ballotpedia’s Sample Ballot Lookup to see what’s on your ballot and bring your choices to the polls with our My Vote app!

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Campaigns for four ballot initiatives in Colorado submit signatures

Campaigns for four Colorado ballot initiatives submitted signatures ahead of the Aug. 8 signature deadline. These measures may appear on the state’s November ballot if state officials determine the campaigns submitted at least 124,632 valid signatures.

Three initiatives would change state alcohol laws, and one deals with revenue for housing projects. Here’s a look at those measures:

  • Initiative 96 would incrementally increase the number of retail liquor store licenses an individual may own or hold a share in. Currently, retailers can open a maximum of three liquor stores in Colorado. Under this initiative, that number would gradually increase to 20 and become unlimited in 2037.
  • Initiative 108 would allocate a percentage of federal income tax revenues, estimated at $300 million per year, to housing projects. This would include financing programs to reduce rent, purchase land for affordable housing, and assist people experiencing homelessness.
  • Initiative 121 would create a new type of license to allow grocery stores, convenience stores, and other businesses licensed to sell beer to also sell wine.
  • Initiative 122 would allow retail establishments licensed to sell alcohol for off-site consumption, like liquor stores, to offer delivery services or provide third-party delivery services.

The secretary of state has 30 days to determine whether the campaigns submitted enough valid signatures. If no decision is made within that time, the initiatives will be placed on the November ballot.

Seven measures have already qualified to appear on Coloradoans’ November ballots.

From 1985 to 2020, an average of nine measures appeared on the statewide ballot during even-numbered years in Colorado. The approval rate for such measures was 47%.

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#FridayTrivia: How many states place no restrictions on who can purchase voter file data?

Since 2002, federal law has required each state to maintain electronic voter registration files. These files typically contain voters’ names, addresses, and a record of elections in which they have participated, information that might be useful to campaigns, pollsters, and researchers.

Voter file data is available for purchase in every state, but some states place limitations on who can make those purchases while others do not.

How many states place no restrictions on who can purchase voter file data?