Another Low Voter Turnout

Rick Hamada
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Wednesday - May 26, 2010

It’s as predictable as the sun rising in the morning that Hawaii voters are anemic in their participation in our political system. The 1st Congressional District special election garnered another embarrassing turnout percentage and one has to scratch one’s head and again ask why.

As of this writing, the state Office of Elections reports that a paltry 46 percent of ballots have been returned with literally hours remaining before the election deadline. How deflating.

What’s missing here? The race is for a federal office, a congressional representative and features three prominent political names as the front runners. The casting of votes is done by mail and voters have had weeks to send in their ballot or go in person to Honolulu Hale.


Can this get any easier? Is it now too much to ask to go to the mailbox, open the envelope, darken one square next to a candidate’s name and put it back in the mailbox? Sheesh.

This race has two big-name Democrats in former U.S. Rep. Ed Case and state Senate President Colleen Hanabusa. Interestingly, these two are about as different Democrats as you will find within their party. The two camps truly have a separate supporter base. With the Democrat membership far outpacing the GOP, wouldn’t you think that Democrats would be coming out in droves to select their favorite? I guess not.

There have been at least three televised debates, radio forums and front-page pieces in the daily papers. Political advertisements have run ad nauseum. There has even been a bit of controversy to keep the race top of mind during water cooler discussions. It’s not like nobody knows about this special election, so why the manini numbers?

It’s not like this race isn’t fraught with issues. The referendum on the Obama administration, our economic condition, illegal immigration and environmental policy are topics not simply reserved for the media. Folks are talking about this around the dinner table, in business meetings and at keiki first birthdays. You would think most of us would want a voice in Congress to articulate our positions then reinforce the electorate’s desires in Washington, D.C. Sadly, that doesn’t seem to be the case.

Conservative pundits, analysts and radio hosts have been declaring the incredible impact a Djou win would mean to the Republican Revolution of 2010. They cite that Hawaii is a Democrat-dominated state, that Djou would be a representative from President Obama’s district and that if Hawaii can go red, the rest of the nation can, too.

The flip side is, what if he loses? The benefits of a win to the GOP cause would be substantial, but a loss would be equally, if not more impacting. All the talk about this being a historic election can work both ways.

I honestly don’t care for whom you vote. I am hopeful that you are voting. If not, please do so in the future. If you are voting, influence your circle of 10 so that they will vote.

We accept mediocrity in so many areas of government. We cannot afford to do so at the ballot box.

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