Tuesday | June 28, 2016
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Partisan vs. nonpartisan: What’s the difference?

During the primary election, voters will be doing more than picking which candidates will represent political parties on the ballot in November.

They will also decide in state and federal races which, if any, non-partisan candidates are given a shot in the general election.

The process for both is similar, though there are some differences.

With partisan candidates, the top candidate from each party in a race goes on to the Nov. 4 general election.

Non-partisans must meet one of the following criteria to advance: receive at least 10 percent of the votes cast for the office in the primary or at least tie with the least popular partisan candidate who is nominated, according to the state Office of Elections.

As with political parties, the number of non-partisan candidates qualifying for the general election can’t exceed the number of seats available.

If there are more successful non-partisan candidates in the primary than available seats, the top unaffiliated candidates advance, but no more than the number of seats available.

Voters who wish to support a non-partisan candidate can only vote for non-partisans in the primary.

With Hawaii’s single-party primary, the same goes for those voting for Democrats, Republicans etc. Voters must stick with one party’s ballot or the ballot for non-partisan candidates.

These rules do not apply to races for county-level offices or Office of Hawaiian Affairs, which don’t allow party affiliations.

Email Tom Callis at tcallis@hawaiitribune-herald.com.


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