Hawaiʻi’s primary election in August saw a record 406,425 voters – an increase of 42% participation over the 2018 primary election. This is likely due to mail-in voting which makes participating easier and more convenient. Increased voter participation may also be a reflection of the unprecedented political, health, economic and environmental issues we are facing in 2020.

With the general election just weeks away, the stakes are incredibly high. We remain in the midst of a pandemic. There have been months of protests against systemic racism in America. Millions of jobs have been lost. And for weeks fires resulting from record-high heat have been burning out of control all along the West Coast destroying countless acres of pristine forest and leaving thousands homeless.

The outcomes of the 2020 general election will determine our collective future for years to come. The issues are real; from the economy to the ʻāina, from systemic racism to poverty, from health care to homeownership. The civic engagement of our lāhui in the voting process at this moment in time is more important than ever. Decisions will be made. The question is, will we participate in deciding our future? Or let others decide it for us?

Voting is the kuleana of everyone 18 and older and being an informed and educated voter is imperative. But voting for candidates based on superficial factors like name recognition does not fulfill that kuleana.

It is critical that voters become familiar with the candidates and where they stand on the issues. This past June Ka Wai Ola surveyed all of the candidates running for office in the primary election and printed their responses in our July issue.

Voters were hungry for this information. During July traffic on our kawaiola.news website tripled; and the information we shared about the candidates for every political race was heavily viewed and shared.

Additionally, OHA hosted numerous online candidate forums. All are available at www.oha.org/vote.

With many races decided after the primary election, Ka Wai Ola has now focused on those who have advanced to the general election in key local races: Honolulu mayor, Hawaiʻi County mayor, Honolulu prosecutor, and OHA’s Board of Trustees.

Surveys were emailed to the candidates, this time using a narrative response format for all. Not every question posed to the candidates reflects OHA’s formal positions or advocacy. Our advocacy questions have been combined with tough questions related to issues that are important to our lāhui based on the results of OHA’s Aloha Rising survey in January, and are designed to help voters select the candidates whose visions and platforms best align with their own.

Each candidate’s website is listed along with their personal information. Voters are strongly encouraged to visit the candidates’ websites to learn more about them and their platforms.

Additionally, OHA is partnering with ʻŌIWI TV to host the Hawaiʻi Island OHA Trustee Candidate Forum in mid-October. The forum will stream live on Facebook (see below). OHA will also partner with KHON to sponsor a 2-hour televised forum featuring other select candidates to get their positions on issues affecting Native Hawaiians. With the help of the internet, being an informed and educated voter has never been easier.

E kū mai e nā kānaka! Let’s stand up and make our voices count.


For forum updates, visit www.oha.org/vote

Candidate Forum featuring…

  • Hawaiʻi & Oʻahu Mayoral Candidates
  • Honolulu Prosecuting Attorney Candidates
  • Congressional District #1 and #2 Candidates

October 8, 7 p.m. on KHON and KHII (rebroadcast on October 11 at 8 p.m. on KHII)