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To Our Readers

By John Flanagan

Saturday, November 4, 2000

Get out and vote, anyway

TUESDAY'S presidential election might be the closest since Kennedy vs. Nixon in 1960, but it could also be a done deal before most of us in Hawaii get to the polls.

Flag Button art We're used to knowing who's already won the World Series or Monday night football, but those aren't games in which we're the players. It's hard to get psyched up to come off the bench when the final score is already on the board.

A little suspense wouldn't hurt either. Jeremy Harris' majority victory in the mayoral election in September took the title bout off the local election card. While the local GOP has fielded a team, the congressional races won't draw a crowd. It's St. Louis vs. Damien all over again.

Those campaigns have been almost invisible. The ongoing budget battle and pending Hawaiian recognition legislation kept the incumbents in Washington. Meanwhile, their GOP opponents seem to have gone missing. No debates, no controversy, no hype, not even a juicy rumor -- if not for the perfunctory "I'm asking for your vote" TV commercials, voters could easily overlook the fact that three out of four of Hawaii's seats in Washington are up for grabs.

In days when a vote seemed to count more than it does in this cynical information age, Oliver Wendell Holmes rhymed about "The freeman casting with unpurchased hand/The vote that shakes the turrets of the land." Few turrets will tremble in Hawaii this year.

For example, do we really need a constitutional amendment to give the university autonomy from legislative meddling except when the Legislature votes to meddle? Will electing a homophobe to the school board really improve public education? No, the big local questions are about the ballot, not on it. Should non-Hawaiians vote in the OHA election? Will those balky new voting machines work this time?

Sparse turnouts could make winning a school board or legislative seat a crapshoot, but when the going gets tough, the tough get to the polls. Do it -- your vote might never count more.

Bullet General Election Guide
Bullet State Office of Elections

John Flanagan is editor and publisher of the Star-Bulletin.
To reach him call 525-8612, fax to 523-8509, send
e-mail to or write to
P.O. Box 3080, Honolulu, Hawaii 96802.

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