Hawaii voters are no-shows yet again
Let's see if I got this straight. Only about 53 percent of registered voters in Hawaii took part in last week's election, but that actually represents about 40 percent of eligible voters.
When eligible voters were asked if they voted, 33 percent said not only did they not vote, but they didn't even want to be polled about voting. Another 29 percent said they would agree to be polled, as long as it wasn't considered "voting" to see who actually voted in the election. Some 70 percent of those polled said they might register to vote but then would not vote because "registering should be good enough."
Strangely, 98 percent of unregistered voters actually voted, while 87 percent of ineligible voters registered but didn't vote. A small percentage of residents who were not eligible to vote and did not register to vote didn't vote. About 103 percent of the ineligible voters who didn't register to vote did actually vote, but only on Maui.
Three Hawaii County registered voters curiously cast votes in the Montgomery Parish, La., commissioner's race by simply sending a postcard to the Parish Committee on Elections saying, "Ya'll."
Absentee voting was extremely high in Hawaii, although it turns out that none of those voters was actually absent. Some apparently were just at recess. It seems that 37 percent of the absentee ballots were cast at local shopping malls, where 37 percent of the shops were offering 37 percent off on all election-related merchandise. A slightly confused man attempted to vote 99 times at the 99 Cent store at Windward Mall before being taken to the parking lot by security and abandoned.
If all this seems confusing to you, pull the handle on the right of the machine, black out three of the little circle thingies at the bottom of the page and ask the waitress for a fresh cocktail.
All we really learned from Tuesday's election is that Hawaii once again had the lowest voter turnout in the country, a trend that, if it continues, eventually will result in Hawaii becoming a free agent and available for adoption by any Third World country.
I think there's a federal law that says if the number of people voting in a state falls bellow 30 percent, the state will be forced to secede from the union, and all of its interstate highways signs will be confiscated.
I'm joking here. I think. But it's weird that people in Hawaii just don't want to vote. In a previous column, I referred to the nonvoting public by the scientific designation "brain dead," but that's probably not fair since it infers these people have brains. Residents of Hawaii don't want to vote the way residents of California don't want to pick lettuce and residents of Oregon don't want to pick strawberries. So for the future of representative government in Hawaii, it is clear that we need a "guest voter program."
President Bush is proposing a "guest worker program" that would allow aliens from other countries to come into the United States and do all the grubby jobs that Americans refuse to do. Obviously, many, many Hawaii residents see voting as a chore that is beneath them, so a "guest voter program" is the answer.
We'll bring in alien voters from other countries to do the demeaning business of casting ballots in Hawaii elections. That way, our voting box scores will look better nationally, and we'll be able to boast 70 or even 80 percent voter turnout. After the election, the temporary voter visas will be voided, and the alien voters will be returned to their homelands, proud that they were able to participate in a great democracy.
Short of such a program, I don't know what can be done to cure Hawaii residents of their voter apathy. Making not voting a criminal offense might work, but then the whole death-penalty thing comes up. And if you force people to vote under threat of death, you'll get all kinds of riffraff casting ballots on subjects and candidates they know nothing about. It's much better to have a fully informed alien guest voter casting the ballot than an uninformed (i.e., brain-dead) Hawaii resident.
There's been talk of turning Hawaii elections into lotteries, where everyone who votes has a chance to win $1 million. This also is being considered in Arizona, which, surprisingly, doesn't realize it's got thousands of aliens crowding its border, willing and ready to become guest voters.
The problem with instituting a voting lottery is that everyone would have to vote on the idea for it to become law, and nobody would turn out for that election. We could hold a voting lottery for the purpose of voting on turning voting into a lottery, but we would have to send out for extra psychiatrists from the mainland to handle the mass mental breakdowns that would ensue.
So, let's just forget the whole voting thing for another two years.
, the National Society of Newspaper Columnists' 2004 First Place Award winner for humor writing, appears Sundays, Tuesdays, Thursdays and Fridays. E-mail firstname.lastname@example.org