The voter non-voter conundrum

I often find myself wondering how I can get the attention of the non-voter. Should I yell, or beg or attempt to shame them? Should I tell them their vote really does matter even though nothing ever seems to change? Should I tell them that all politicians are not crooked and many do truly care about the future of our community?

Or should I just ignore their cynicism, accept their ambivalence and speak to the people who do vote?

This is the question every person running for office must ask themselves. Do I spend my limited time and resources speaking to non-voters, or to people that vote?

There is a fundamental rule of politics that goes something like this: “No matter how smart you are, no matter how hard you work and no matter how good you are in your heart, you cannot serve in public office without first getting elected.”

So, the answer of course seems obvious. Candidates primarily focus on those who actually show up at the polls and vote. Statistically this means old people, government workers, higher income demographics, and other specific groups with a defined history of regular voting.

Young people, low to moderate income earners, and new residents have the worst voting records of any demographic. Consequently, they often get less attention from candidates. and less attention when it comes to public policy support and public funding priorities.

If low to moderate income earners voted in large numbers, affordable housing would be a mandate and not a political talking point that never seems to rise to the top of the priority list. If young people became engaged and started voting in large numbers, our schools would be properly funded and there would be universal access made available to all residents who wanted to pursue a higher education.

If history repeats itself, which it normally does, the results of the 2018 primary election that ends on Aug. 11, will be decided by only 30 percent of the voting population.

Thirty percent of the voting population will decide who makes the first cut for election to our County Council, and for the mayor’s race. State legislative races will begin and end at the primary level, because there is no functioning Republican Party fielding candidates at the legislative level. Some would say, WUWT?

The office of thegovernor and the lieutenant governor will also to a great extent be determined in this upcoming primary.

It is an inaccurate statement to say that the primary will be decided by the 30 percent who vote. The truth is that the 70 percent who choose to ignore the primary election and stay home, are the ones really making the decision.

Please know that your vote can make a difference. After running in 10 elections myself over the past 20 years, winning six and losing four, I know very clearly and sometimes painfully so, that every vote does indeed count.

The 2018 primary election concludes on Aug. 11, but early voting is happening now in at the County Annex (4386 Rice Street) next door to the Historic County Building in Lihue. Regardless of where you live you can vote here Monday through Saturday from 8 a.m. until 4 p.m.

Do a little homework, search out information about the candidates, ask your friends and neighbors for their thoughts, then exercise your civic duty and vote.

If you are not registered to vote, that is not a problem, either. Simply bring in your Hawaii driver’s license and they will register you on the spot and you can vote at the same time.

Those of you who are regular voters, please spread the word and encourage your friends, neighbors, and family members to vote early as well.

We are responsible for the quality of our government leadership. By voting we take active ownership of that responsibility. By not voting we are being neglectful and have no one to blame except ourselves for the conduct of our government and the condition of our community.


Gary Hooser formerly served in the Hawaii State Senate, where he was Majority Leader. He also served for eight years on the Kauai County Council and was the former director of the state Office of Environmental Quality Control. He serves presently in a volunteer capacity as board president of the Hawaii Alliance for Progressive Action (HAPA) and is executive director of the Pono Hawaii Initiative.

  1. Charlie Chimknee August 4, 2018 6:54 am Reply

    Aloha Kakou,

    From the outcome of elections over many years it is clear that one culture enjoys and respects Election Day more than the other cultures.

    The result is one culture that is not in the majority, can by consistent culturally full member voting, stack their candidates into the final roster of elected officials in the county council seats, state senators and representatives, and governor.

    For them, it’s a no brainer, whether one of their members just made 18, or on their very senior relaxing days, all they have to do is vote, now made easier by Vote By Mail.

    And look how many say they Do Not want to get involved…! When if you live here you ARE involved, and if you do not vote, others of a different mind set will run your life according to their standards and they receive the benefits and privileges and economic gains; leaving you behind, if not homeless and uneducated.

    Who controls where the tax dollars are spent, who benefits from tax dollars, who benefits from zoning changes and new ordinances. Well clearly it is the people who vote their own culture into office, who then get to appoint the non elected authorities, and election after election, and decade after generation, the same culture holds top power and priority and gains the most benefits while the non voters continue to whine that they are not being treated fair.

    Not Voting is Foolish, and it also does not allow the majority to direct the current, ongoing, and future of the island.

    Hawaii has no majority culture, but any culture can elect their culture to be the majority by simply VOTING, especially voting as a block to ensure their culture wins the majority of an election and keep their people and concerns in the majority.

    A fair election is when all people vote.

    Be Fair to yourself and all of us and Vote. Otherwise you let others tell you what to do; and you actually Lose your Freedom when others tell you what to do.

    VOTE: It’s a Rate Event every few years.



  2. John Zwiebel August 4, 2018 5:53 pm Reply

    Well Gary,

    All I can say is 70% of those who voted in the Presidential Preference Poll voted for Sanders. 8 of 10 Hawaii Super-Delegates voted for Clinton.

    The people voted for the man that was promoting the issues they cared about. The Party decided “to hell with the people”.

    Still, I’ve submitted my absentee ballot and voted for candidates who say they will support my issues. I wonder though if I can depend on the voting machines acquired from a private company, which haven’t been independently vetted, (and, in fact, are reportedly easy to hack) to accurately record and report my vote.

    Considering the 50,000 missing votes in Detroit (“unmarked” for the President in 2016), and the Democratic failure to support a recount or an inquiry into election fraud, it is really hard not to conclude that “the fix is in.”

    Yeah, I voted, but I have no faith that those I voted for have a chance of overcoming the election fraud and winning a seat.

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