Think About It: Voter Vitality - KFVE, K5-Hawaii News Now, Local Programming

April 14, 2014

Think About It: Voter Vitality

A week ago the Pew Charitable Trust reminded us again just how weak our track record is here when it comes to voting. Fewer than 45% of Hawaii's eligible voters bothered to vote in 2012, which ranked us as the worst in the nation. And that's not much better than in 2008, when just under 50% of eligible voters bothered to show up, also the worst in the nation. Yes, we're #1.

Perhaps people here don't see much differentiation in choices from one election to the next, the price we pay for not having a vibrant two party system. But you would think in presidential-election years, like 2008 and 2012, more people would show up to voice their opinion. Long lines, lack of ballots, lack of volunteers, foul-ups at precincts- even the people who did opt to vote faced obstacles the last time around. In 2016, online voter registration will finally be in place here, but that's no guarantee that more people will register or actually vote. So what's it going to take? Are we genuinely disinterested, are we simply happy with the way things are and with the people in power, or do we feel that nothing much changes anyway, so why bother?

Whatever the answer, it's a sorry state, literally, when we rank at the bottom of the members of this democracy in voting numbers. Just after statehood 55-years ago, 90% of the eligible voters here took pride in rendering their opinion on who should run the government. Nowadays, not so much… Better and more early voting options, simpler ballots, educated volunteers- it would all help. But so would an invigorated, educated, engaged public. Think about it…

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