Want info on candidates? It's out there
BEFORE we go any further into this election session, let's stop to say something nice about the state's long-criticized Office of Elections.
If it is time for an election, it usually is time to cast a critical eye toward the tiny office located down a dirt road in Pearl City.
This year, however, Dwayne Yoshina, state election officer and his staff, 14 year-round and 34 during election years, are working on some new items.
First off, all voters are being mailed colorful guides to explain the voting process. Add that to the request for absentee ballots mailed out by the City Clerk's office to all voters and you are starting to put a friendly face on the voting process.
The really successful innovation, however, is on the state's election Internet site, www.state.hi.us/elections, which has an online candidate information page.
If you scroll down to the "Online Voter's Guide" at www.hawaii.gov/elections/candidates/profiles, you can find a short biography of nearly every candidate.
There you can find the details on candidates ranging from Aaron Anderson, a Libertarian running for the 4th state House district on a platform of "live and let live," to Kurt Zuttermeister, a Republican running for the 49th House District.
Telephone numbers, Web pages and e-mail addresses are included, along with a 250-word campaign pitch. There is a link to the Campaign Spending Commission's data so you can check up on your favorite candidate's finances.
Yoshina wants to mail a complete candidate guide to all voters, but he has not been able to persuade the Legislature to add the extra money to his budget. It would be a good idea, and one already adopted by a lot of states and municipalities. Because Hawaii usually has the nation's worst voter turnout, just about anything we do to get more interest in the elections is bound to help.
Yoshina notes that even before he can start worrying about voter turnout, he has to worry about getting precinct workers to help out with the looming elections.
Because Hawaii runs its elections in a centralized statewide system, Yoshina is in charge of finding volunteers to staff the 353 polling places, plus the counting centers on all the islands.
To do the job, he needs about 4,500 volunteers.
If you want to apply, the details are available at elections.hawaii.gov/intakeweb/intake2.
The workers really aren't volunteers, because they get paid $85 for their Election Day duties. But they have to attend a training class and the hours they work can be long, so Yoshina calls them "stipended volunteers." You can just call them good citizens.
writes on politics every Sunday in the Star-Bulletin. He can be reached at 525-8630 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org