By Desiree Pacariem | Staff Writer
The upcoming presidential election on November 3 is shaping up to be the most critical election in our lifetime. Before the pandemic, Hawai‘i was one of only four states to transition to all mail-in balloting. For first-time voters, the process behind vote by mail can be daunting. To make it easier, here is the basic information that every voter should know.
How do I register to vote?
The easiest and most convenient way to register is online through elections.hawaii.gov. Be sure to have a current Hawai‘i driver’s license or state ID as well as your social security number on hand as it is required to log in.
For those who prefer physical registration, voter applications can be downloaded from here. After completing your application, you can mail or deliver it in person to your local County Elections Divisions.
After you complete your registration, your ballot will be mailed to the address that was provided. Be sure to double check that this information is correct before the registration deadline.
If you have voted previously, a ballot will be automatically mailed to you 18 days before Election Day.
If you miss the deadline, you can still register in-person on Election day and during the early voting period, which is from October 20 to November 2 at your local voter service center.
When are ballots due to be sent out?
You can track the status of your mail ballot packet here.
Monday, Oct. 5: Voter Registration Deadline online and by mail
Friday, Oct. 16: General Elections Ballots Delivered
Tuesday, Oct. 20: Voter Service Centers open, return ballots by mail (recommended)
Tuesday, Oct. 27: Return ballots by mail
Thursday, Nov. 3: General election
What should the mail ballot packet contain?
Ballot secrecy sleeve
A return ballot envelope
How do I return my ballot?
The return envelope that comes with your mail ballot packet will be postage prepaid. When you are ready to mail in your ballot, seal it in the provided secrecy sleeve. Sign the self-affirmation box on the return envelope and drop it off at the nearest blue USPS mailbox.
The deadline to mail in is Oct. 27. However, due to potential delays, USPS strongly recommends that you turn in your ballot two weeks before Election Day. Any ballots postmarked after Nov. 3 will be rejected. Don’t procrastinate – the sooner you get your ballot in, the better.
If you miss the deadline, return your ballot in-person to a voter service center or place of deposit to ensure that it is counted. Locations and hours are available here.
What are absentee ballots?
If you will not be in Hawai‘i during Election Day, you can request an absentee ballot to be sent to an alternate address. To apply, complete a one-time absentee application and return it to the city or county clerk that will be listed a week before Nov. 3. Absentee ballots are treated the same as any other mail-in ballot and will not be accepted later than 7 p.m. on Election Day.
For more information go to https://elections.hawaii.gov/.