Hawaii set to go
for Kerry officially

Electoral College members will
cast votes tomorrow in
the presidential race

Many of us may have voted on Nov. 2 for president, but the election isn't officially over.

There are still four more votes from Hawaii that have to be cast and counted.

Tomorrow at 2 p.m., Hawaii's members of the Electoral College will meet in room 329 at the state Capitol to fulfill a constitutional duty and cast Hawaii's four votes for the Democratic ticket of John Kerry and John Edwards.

"Mr. Kerry won Hawaii," said Frances Kagawa, a retired secretary and one of Hawaii's electors. "He's not a loser."

The electoral votes will be sealed and sent to Washington, D.C., where they will be opened on Jan. 6 in Congress and President George W. Bush will officially be re-elected.

Hawaii's four electors are Kagawa, a retired secretary; Sam Mitchell, a mechanic; Joy Kobashigawa Lewis, a University of Hawaii secretary; and Dolly Strazar, executive director of the Lyman Museum.

The vote for president on Nov. 2 was essentially a vote to select the electors, who were chosen by their state parties here. In Hawaii, whichever party's candidate wins the state gets all four electoral votes.

For decades, Americans have debated the worthiness of the Electoral College, which allowed former vice President Al Gore to lose the presidency in 2000 after winning the popular vote. But the discussion, it seems, is more of an election year afterthought than a call to serious action.

There have been dozens of reform proposals introduced in Congress. All of them have died, most without getting out of committee.

Hawaii's Democratic electors say they believe in the electoral process because it allows small states to at least make some kind of a difference in elections.

This will be Lewis' third time as an elector, and she wouldn't miss tomorrow's vote for anything -- even if she isn't voting for the election's winner.

"I would have preferred to go and vote ... if John Kerry had won the election," she said, adding that in 2000 she made it to the vote for Gore just a day after badly hurting her foot. "I am still very pleased to do this for John Kerry. It's a great honor."

She said it's difficult to educate people about the Electoral College.

Misconceptions about how electors are chosen and how they vote lead to debates about the system's legitimacy, Lewis said.

"I suppose it's a difficult thing to understand," she said.

Kagawa said her grandchildren have learned the process in history classes, but some adults seem to be surprised when she says she'll be voting for president in the middle of December.

"They say, 'That's a strange time to be doing it,' " she said. "And I explain to them, it's because of the possibility of people challenging the race."

The Democratic electors have been invited to President Bush's inauguration.

They don't plan to attend.

"I really can't see spending my money to go to see the election of a president who I didn't vote for," Kagawa said.

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