Hawai‘i’s 2018 elections are just around the corner. The filing of candidacy will begin on February 1, 2018. Qualified individuals for public office will have the opportunity to be included on the ballot. Meanwhile, the deadline for filing candidacy is set on June 5, 2018.
Voter registration, on the other hand, is an ongoing activity for those who meet the requirements. All qualified voters have until July 12, 2018 to register, just a month away from the Primary Election on August 11, 2018.
Election is the process by which the people are given the power to choose their leader. For it to be meaningful, there has to be greater participation by the registered voters, that is, more registration with higher turnout rate. Election records show that voter turnout in Hawai‘i was 56.4 percent in the 2016 General election, and 52.7 percent in the 2014 State and Local Elections. If measured against the total registration, the turnout becomes apparent how a small portion of the voting population is actually electing the leaders.
As an example, if the total registered voters is 90,000 and out of this, only 50,000 casted their votes, and if there are at least two candidates, Candidate 1 got 30,000 votes, as against Candidate 2 getting 20,000 votes. If Candidate 1 is the declared winner, in reality the candidate is elected by only one-third of the entire registered voters. Instead of election by the “majority,” it becomes an election by “the majority of the majority.” Translated as 50,000 is majority of 90,000; now, 30,000 is in the same token a majority of 50,000. But 30,000 is not a majority of 90,000. It is in this scenario that a local favorite who has a solid group of supporters may easily win the election, even without being elected by the majority of the registered voters.
To boost higher turnout and minimize the impact of long lines in election precincts, the office of Elections has adapted the early voting system, also known as absentee voting or vote by mail. This means that a voter does not have to wait until Election Day to vote. For instance, a voter can vote by absentee in person at the office of the County Clerk on designated dates prior to Election Day. For vote by mail, a voter needs to complete the Wiki Wiki voter registration and permanent Absentee form, which is available on line at https://olvr.hawaii.gov and send it by mail. A request for a mail ballot must be received by the County Clerk Office no later than 7 days before election. The deadline for request a ballot is August 4, 2018 for the Primary and October 30, 2018 for the general election.
We have enough time to make sure that next year’s election will be fair and honest, with a higher turnout rate, and less public disinformation so that our democratic system will allow the election of the best who will govern with integrity, probity and support of the majority of all the registered voters. It will be a daunting task but that will be the time we can say that our system is the government of the people, by the people, and for the people.