LIHUE — The percentage of registered voters on Kauai may have increased in this year’s primary election, but compared with the 2014 election, the number of those who cast ballots decreased.
On Aug. 11, of the 43,520 registered voters, 43.3 percent, or 18,837, turned out at the polls to cast a ballot, compared to the 2014 primary election when 47 percent, or 19,366 of the 41,165 of registered voters voted.
In 2016’s primary election, 35.5 percent of the 43,036 registered voters cast ballots and in 2012 it was 39.2 percent, or 15,606 of the 39,834 registered voters.
For Kauai, the turnout looks pretty typical, said County Council candidate Milo Spindt, who placed 12th and moved on with the top 14 to the general election.
“It’s pretty consistent from 2016-2014, with 2014 being a better gauge because it wasn’t a presidential election,” he said.
Spindt said he’s not sure why more people don’t vote.
“Maybe they don’t vote because they think their vote won’t make a difference, or they don’t want to get involved in the controversy of politics,” he said.
County Council candidate Adam Roversi, who placed 14th in the council race, said candidates need to inspire voters to care enough to participate in the election process.
“I think that’s a little on myself and the rest of us to get out and engage the public with our stories and to come out and get involved,” he said.
When it comes to local elections, Roversi said every vote counts.
“I think a lot of people feel politically disenfranchised especially when it comes to national elections, that it doesn’t make a difference all together, but when it comes to a small community like Kauai a few hundred votes do count,” he said.
The campaigning is expected to heat up soon as Kauai determines its new mayor, councilmembers and weighs in on a proposal to remove council term limits.
Kapahi resident Richard Coon said he missed voting in the primary election this year.
“I saw all the signs out there and I meant to vote, but I missed the early voting on the last day,” he said.
Coon said he usually votes, but this year he moved and needs to register for his new location. He said he’s planning on voting in November’s general election.
The solution for getting more people to vote is to tell them to vote, he said.
“If they don’t vote, there won’t be any change. We’ll have the same old people over and over again which happens on Kauai anyway, it probably happens all of the world that way, incumbents are like that, but if you expect any change you have to do something about it yourself,” he said.
At 17, Rhea Gambeng of Puhi wasn’t old enough to vote in the primary election, but she said she’ll definitely be voting in the 2020 election.
“It’s important to vote because we decide like whose in control and if we don’t like what the person is doing it’s kind of our fault because we voted for them,” she said.
One way to increase voter turnout, she said, is through advertising, especially on social media. If she could have voted, Gambeng said she would have voted for mayoral candidate Mel Rapozo because she said he campaigned more than the other candidates.
Lawai resident Edd Cook said he was disappointed with the primary election’s voter turnout.
“I know that it’s a particular problem with primary elections. We’re not great as far as turnout for any. Right now I’m hopeful that the trial run in 2020 for the mail-in will generally increase turnout,” he said.
Cook said he encourages and suggests to his friends that they vote and tells them if they don’t vote, he doesn’t want to hear them complain.
“It’s a concrete way to express your conscience on governmental affairs and all sorts of matters come under that heading,” he said. “Social issues, government budgets, it’s the most concrete way to affect change.”
Bethany Freudenthal, courts, crime and county reporter, 652-7891, firstname.lastname@example.org