This much is clear: By the end of today, Hawaii’s political landscape will be reoriented in a once-in-a-decade earthquake, the combination of redistricting efforts in the Legislature, a new council majority in the Hawaii County Council and two open seats in the state’s congressional delegation.
How big of an event this will be depends on how many registered voters will turn out by today, if they haven’t voted absentee. The 2010 primary election had just 39.5 percent turnout.
Today’s local races include seven County Council contests, the hotly contested race for mayor, the first race for prosecutor without Jay Kimura in 20 years and the Democratic Party battles for seats being vacated by U.S. Rep. Mazie Hirono and U.S. Sen. Dan Akaka.
Winners of tonight’s partisan races will face each other in the Nov. 6 general election, unless they are running unopposed. For Hawaii County’s nonpartisan format, the candidate who gets a majority of valid votes cast will win the election.
If there is no majority winner, the two candidates receiving the most votes will face off in the general election.
Registered voters should have received yellow cards in the mail directing them where to vote. Because of redistricting, your polling place may not be the same as where you voted in the past. If you are unsure where your polling place is, go to the website of the state Office of Elections at hawaii.gov/elections, and click on the “2012 Polling Place Locator” icon.
Polls are open from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. today, with the first results, which are solely from absentee ballots, released after the final polling place closes.
After that, updates will be released hourly from 8-11 p.m. The final printout will be early Sunday morning.
Email Peter Sur at firstname.lastname@example.org.