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Letters for Wednesday, March 15, 2017

• Make voting convenient • Respect religious freedom

Make voting convenient

Certain elements of voting have been frustrating me since I cast my first vote more than 15 years ago; all of them are easily fixed if Hawaii lawmakers pass the vote-by-mail measures introduced at the Legislature this year.

First, there’s the complexity of the ballot. There are always questions and choices I didn’t expect each asking for input on things about which I have little or no expertise. With advance access to the ballot I get to do more research and make more informed choices.

Overscheduled? Then voting in person is not for you. Spending hours at a crowded polling site is not just time away from work, it’s time away from: classes, familial duties, and that doesn’t account for unforeseen circumstances like a poorly timed illness or injury.

I’ve been lucky enough to have employers that recognize the importance of civic participation, but that doesn’t make it the norm. Many residents don’t have the financial flexibility to take time off. No one should be disadvantaged when it comes to having their voice heard. Voting should not be in such a fragile condition when the future of our community is at stake.

Benjimin Trevino, Honolulu

Respect religious freedom

The Mayor’s Prayer Luncheon is a Christian event where everyone is welcome (until sold out) and urged to participate. As a leader said, “prayer is not a spectator sport.” We pray for the many needs of our island community and urge one another to do our best to help those in need around us.

Dr. Khalsa wrote that the luncheon excludes the participation of the Interfaith Roundtable (TGI Forum, March 10). He is either misinformed or what he means by “participation” is that a Roundtable member would get the microphone and lead everyone in a prayer to a Hindu or some other god.

Jews and Christians have special reverence for the Ten Commandments that were written by God himself (Exodus 31:18). The most important commandment is #1: “Thou shall have no other gods before me.” To participate in prayer to another god is a violation of this sacred commandment.

Our Constitution guarantees that the government should not interfere with the free exercise of religion. As a member of the luncheon committee, I have witnessed harmony, unity, and aloha between the mayor and the organizers of the event. He does not interfere in any way with any religious freedom of the event.

In his letter, Dr. Khalsa urged the mayor to violate our Constitution by “insisting” that Christians break our First Commandment in this way.

Violating the Constitution and pressuring the biggest community of faith to violate their consciences is not a good way to promote aloha.

Mark Beeksma, Koloa

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