According to the U.S. Census Bureau in 2017 women made up 50.1% of Maui County residents, but do they vote?
Of the 242 years that the United States of America has been in existence, women have been allowed to vote for the past 98. The Maui County Clerk’s office does not keep information on gender and voting numbers, but we can feel a rising nationwide. In recent years female voter turnout rates have risen and are making a difference. This was evident late last year when we saw the historic defeat in Alabama of Roy Moore due to African American women overwhelmingly showing up at the polls, and as a block voting for his opponent. No-one thought that kind of Presidential election-like turnout was possible. But it was and demonstrated that if enough women who care come out and vote, change can happen.
If we look at the voting record of the State of Hawaii as a whole voter turn out is notoriously low. In fact statewide apathy was at an all time high in the 2016 primaries setting the lowest record to date with only 34.7% of registered voters bothering to fill in a ballot.
A closer look at Maui County’s number last election show that even though numbers were higher for the General than the anemic turnout for the Primary, only 52,969 out of the 93,912 registered voters cast ballots during the General election.
Who votes on Maui? Historically the biggest voting block has been Kahului and Wailuku, therefore Central Maui votes have been the most influential. But, in the last election we saw promising growth from South Maui and the Haiku precinct.
Why do the primaries matter? Hawai’i is a predominantly blue state meaning that when a Democrat is pitted against a Republican in the General, the Democrat is (short of a miracle) voted in. Therefore the Democratic candidate in the State races chosen in the primary will in all likelihood be the candidate representing you at the State level. This year the primary will also importantly decide who can run for Mayor in November.
Why should women vote? Women have diverse experiences and needs. Voting is an opportunity to bring our voices to the forefront and to pick candidates who represent our needs, wants and concerns for the islands’ future.
How do I register to vote? You can register online at https://olvr.hawaii.gov or go to your local Post Office or library and pick up a Wikiwiki Voter Registration & Permanent Absentee Application. This is also the first year that you can register to vote and vote on the same day!
To be able to vote and steer the future of our islands is a privilege, but your voice cannot be heard if you do not vote. If enough women do register and cast their ballots for the August 11 primary our voices will be loud and clear and we will have a real chance to make a big difference.