SCHOOL BOARD PRIMARY ELECTIONS
POSITION IN BRIEF
Action to support a nonpartisan primary election for the Board of Education
The League of Women Voters of Hawaii finds that many voters are confused by Board of Education elections. This is in part because of the large number of candidates running for the board, which makes it difficult for voters to make an informed choice.
Since 1980 members of the Board of Education have been elected on a nonpartisan basis at the general election in November. The League of Women Voters of Hawaii supports holding a nonpartisan primary election for school board candidates prior to the general election. This pre-selection process would reduce the number of candidates running in the general election to a more manageable number, thus enabling the public to learn more about their qualifications and positions on educational issues.
The League believes that the need to improve the process of selecting those who are responsible for guiding public education outweighs the additional cost of a school board primary.
In 1978 the voters approved constitutional convention proposals establishing new Board of Education election districts, making school board elections nonpartisan, and eliminating the school board primary. Subsequently, there was a significant increase in the number of candidates running for the board. The League, as an organization dedicated to an informed electorate, became concerned about the public confusion over school board elections and the lack of coverage of the candidates. This concern was heightened by the League's firsthand experience with the difficulties of trying to provide voter information for such a large number of candidates in a short period of time.
In 1987 the state convention approved a study of primary elections which was to address two questions: 1) whether there should be a primary election for the nonpartisan state school board; and 2) whether there should be presidential primaries in Hawaii. No consensus was reached with regard to a presidential primary, but in February 1988 the Board announced a League position in support of a nonpartisan primary election for the Board of Education.
Bills proposing a primary election for the Board of Education were under consideration during the 1988 legislative session, so action on our new position began immediately. A bill was approved by the 1990 legislature, and there was a primary election for school board candidates that fall.
Primary Elections in Hawaii? Board of Education? Presidential Primary? League of Women Voters of Hawaii, 1987