Imagine for a second or a minute, or perhaps for a day or a month – that you were in control. Instead of watching helplessly as your life and the world flew by, imagine if you could actually make a difference in the outcomes. Now imagine how silly, how dumb and how regretful you will feel when you realize, possibly too late that it is true.
Whether as a parent, a business owner, a student or perhaps a member of a sports team or other organization – we of course do have the power to influence the outcomes and actions of the world around us.
And yes, the direction I am heading at this moment is our power and ability to exert control and influence over policy and politics. With voting in Hawaii’s upcoming primary election set to begin in only 30 days, the time is now to wake up and engage the process.
So to the armchair quarterbacks – it’s time to wake up and do something productive.
If you believe strongly in term limits, and find yourself wanting to “throw the bums out” now is a good time to exercise your right and obligation to do just that.
And to those friends whose hearts and intentions are focused on supporting a political revolution in Hawaii, – posting political rants on Facebook and showing up occasionally to hold signs and join in protests and march with friends is important, but not nearly enough.
You gotta vote.
The upcoming primary election is officially taking place on August 8, however ballots will begin arriving in the mail box of every registered voter in the state on or about July 21st.
This will be the first state sponsored election which is “all mail-in.” Every registered voter in the state will receive a ballot in the mail and every one of those ballots must be received by the office of elections by August 8th. This is important so I will repeat. For your vote to count, it must be received by August 8th – not mailed by August 8th but RECEIVED.
If your address on file with the office of elections is incorrect, or if you have moved to a new residence or if you are not sure if you are registered to vote or not – visit the Office of Elections website to register or correct your information – https://olvr.hawaii.gov
The deadline to register to vote is July 9th.
Yes, you can register and vote on the same day of August 8th but trust me on this one – August 8th is going to be a crazy day for people who wait to the last minute. For people who want to register to vote and/or to vote “in person” on election day, there will only be a single location for the entire island – Lihue Civic Center, Piikoi Building, 4444 Rice St, Lihue, 96766.
In addition, many would-be voters will “not be able to find their ballot,” or claim they never got one, or inadvertently “spoil” their ballot and need a replacement. All of these voters will require “in person” help only available at the one Lihue location. At best the main problem will be long lines, but complete chaos is not an unlikely scenario.
Think about the math for a moment. In 2018 Kauai had approximately 43,520 registered voters. Only 18,837 actually voted in the primary. This means 24,683 registered voters failed to show up. For the 2020 election, all of them will be mailed ballots and given approximately 18 days to mail them back in.
Of those who did vote in the 2018 primary election, about 9,000 of them “walked in” on election day and voted at their traditional polling places where many have voted their entire lives.
On the upcoming primary date of August 8th, an unknown number of voters are going to wake up that morning and go “Oh poop! I forgot to put my ballot in the mail. I need to go down, drop off my ballot and/or vote in person.” On this same day, an also unknown number of new voters are going to have a similar epiphany and realize they forgot to register to vote. Both groups will then head to the one and only location for the entire island, where the line is sure to be very long.
So trust me on this. When the ballots arrive 30 days from now, please exercise your civic duty and vote promptly. Don’t throw the ballot away thinking it’s junk mail and don’t throw it in the pile on the kitchen table to “look at later” and then end up spending your Saturday standing in a long line wishing your were somewhere else.
Your vote matters. Please share this message with friends and family and double check to make sure you are registered and the correct address is on file. It’s easy, just go to https://olvr.hawaii.gov
Gary Hooser formerly served in the state Senate, where he was majority leader. He also served for eight years on the Kaua‘i 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 Hawai‘i Alliance for Progressive Action and is executive director of the Pono Hawai‘i Initiative.