The landscape in Hawai‘i
In most states, the top election official is the Secretary of State. Hawai‘i is an exception: The chief election official is appointed by the Hawai‘i Elections Commission. One member of that commission, Kahiolani Papalimu, has used the platform to amplify election conspiracy theories.
On Jan. 6, 2021, Papalimu reposted a letter from the state Republican Party chair asking Vice President Mike Pence to reject electors from six states carried by Joe Biden—authority that Pence does not have under the Constitution.
More than two years later, Hawaii Republicans lost a court case claiming that state election officials violated the law during the routine auditing process that followed the 2022 election. The defendants in the case, the state Office of Elections and Chief Elections Officer Scott Nago, said those assertions were “pure speculation.” A judge dismissed the case, one of many election challenges that have failed in Hawaii courts.
1 Election Denier holds statewide Office right now.
Elections are run by the states. In Hawai'i, the Governor, Attorney General, and chief election official are the state officials responsible for overseeing elections. In most states, the Secretary of State is the chief election official. Hawai'i is an exception: The Hawai'i Elections Commission appoints the chief election official. It’s up to all of them to make sure the will of the people is always respected.
Read more about The Roles of Our Elected Officials in Elections
State Elections Board of Hawaiʻi
Term started 2020
Term ends 2024
Spread lies or promoted conspiracies about the legitimacy of the 2020 presidential election or subsequent election cycles in public, including in social media, press statements, or comments to the press.
Refused to certify, or called on or pressured election officials to refuse to certify, the 2020 presidential election results or a race in subsequent elections based on meritless claims about election fraud, voter fraud, misinformation, or lies.
Falsely claimed former President Trump won the 2020 presidential election instead of the legitimate winner, President Biden.
Taken action to undermine the integrity of the 2020 presidential election or subsequent election cycles, including:
Filing or supporting litigation seeking to overturn the results based on conspiracies or baseless legal theories.
Filing or supporting litigation that was sanctioned for being malicious or without merit in the aftermath of an election.
Promoting or participating in a Stop the Steal–sponsored or branded event or rally during or following the 2020 election.
Calling for a “forensic audit” of the 2020 presidential election or a race in subsequent elections after the results were certified, were officially audited, or stood up to multiple legal challenges.
Refused to concede a race, or publicly supported a candidate’s refusal to concede a race, after the results were officially audited or stood up to multiple legal challenges.
How Hawai‘i compares
Every state runs its own elections, with its own laws and processes. Check out how Hawai‘i compares with other states in its region when it comes to Election Deniers holding state election administration jobs.
Election Denial in Far West States
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|Moreinformation about California|
State Elections Board
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Sitting official is an Election Denier
- In Alaska, the chief election official is the Lieutenant Governor, elected alongside the Governor.
- In Hawai'i, the Chief Election Official is appointed by the Hawai'i Elections Commission.
Voter turnout over time
Voters are always the backstop against election denial, whether Election Deniers are already in office or vying for power. It’s important to turn out for every election in your state—and to vote in every race on your ballot. Downballot races, like contests for Attorney General and Secretary of State, have historically drawn fewer voters, even though the positions are critical to keeping elections free, fair, and secure. Here’s a look at voter participation in Hawai‘i elections over time. Notice that in years with several important positions up for election, some voters choose not to vote in every race.
Data on the number of votes cast in each race are from state elections depositories, supplemented with data from the U.S. Election Assistance Commission (EAC), House Election Statistics, and The Book of States. Rates are calculated using the Census’s Citizen Voting Age Population (CVAP) estimates. Rates will be updated when the Census releases new CVAP data for 2022.
Beyond the ballot box
Each year, state legislators introduce thousands of bills related to elections. And in the past few years, we’ve identified a concerning trend. Across the country, state legislatures are considering bills that would make it easier for partisan actors to manipulate an election, and maybe even overturn the will of the people. We’re tracking these bills along with our partners in an ongoing series of reports called “A Democracy Crisis in the Making.” In 2023 alone, through early May, we tracked 185 bills introduced in 38 state legislatures that would politicize, criminalize, or interfere with elections.
The anti-democracy playbook is simple: change the rules and change the referees, in order to change the results. These bills go hand-in-hand with the Election Denier movement: They’re about taking power away from voters and making it harder for trusted election officials to do their jobs.