wHonolulu Star-Bulletin Editorial

author On Politics

Richard Borreca

Sunday, October 31, 2004

It’s prime time for
stumping Hawaii-style

An open letter to Dan Rather, Peter Jennings and Tom Brokaw: Welcome to Hawaii. I know you have seen almost all of it, from the Hindu Kush to the Riviera, but you haven't seen an election in Hawaii.

With the possibility that the race for president could be decided by Hawaii voters, we are blessed this weekend with visits from the big dogs -- former and current vice presidents, along with a possible first daughter, Alexandra Kerry.

If it comes down to it we would be honored to make the choice for the nation, but first here are a few tips for you visitors from the national media.

First, the largest city in Hawaii is Honolulu. That is "Hoe-no-loo-loo." It is not "hannah loo-loo." While we are worrying about pronunciation, our senior senator's name is "In-oh way."

Second, the folks living in Honolulu and all across Hawaii are residents, voters or citizens of the Hawaiian Islands; they are not all "Hawaiians." Hawaiians are a special group; they got here first.

Third, though the folks you see on every street corner frantically waving signs may seem to be nuts, they are not. Nor are they pickets. Those folks are campaigners trying to lure their supporters to the polls. Sign-waving is a peculiarly Hawaii way of campaigning, cheap but effective.

We love our politics, but recently we have done a lousy job of getting out and voting; our voter figures are some of the lowest in the country. Be that as it may, please do not make a lot of cracks about "spending all your time on the beach and that's why you don't vote."

Many of us have two jobs; we live complicated lives packed into small but high-priced houses and apartments, and it is sometimes difficult to find a way to vote. Our hard-working local voters are finding it more convenient to vote absentee, and it is the trend of the future.

Oh, and by the way, we don't go to one beach, we go to lots of beaches, and I'm willing to bet they are nicer than yours.

Back on the campaign trail. If the race actually comes down to Hawaii, you will have to deal with the state Office of Elections. The word "laconic" means terse or brief; in Hawaii, it also defines Dwayne Yoshina, our chief elections officer. Don't expect to get a Pat Harris sort of interview with Dwayne. He doesn't care if you are coming from New York or Nuuanu, he just isn't going to give you a sound bite.

Another word about our elections. They don't always go smoothly, sometimes the tallies are delayed. We just got a new voting system that is supposed to feed into the regular system, there were problems in our primary election, but there are promises it will go smoothly.

Because Hawaii feels better if everything is in one location, we count all our votes in the basement of the state Capitol. If everything goes according to plan, we will have our final vote counted by 11:30 p.m. Tuesday. If not, please refer to the preceding paragraph.

Finally, if we get bogged down in the vote counting, you might want to visit. You probably will be able to find the three-star restaurants by yourself, but if you need some help with a good plate lunch wagon, I've got a couple of secret favorites.

See the Columnists section for some past articles.

Richard Borreca writes on politics every Sunday in the Star-Bulletin. He can be reached at 525-8630 or by e-mail at rborreca@starbulletin.com.



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