Mail-in ballot might boost special election turnout


POSTED: Wednesday, January 06, 2010

Horoscopes and astrology might be, as the joke goes, the one thing that gives economic forecasts and economists credibility.

One week, long before the Internet, the Star-Bulletin supplier failed to mail the next week's horoscopes. Faced with leaving Pisces and Leo with no guidance, our night copy desk chief, the late John Wheeler, decided to write his own set of predictions.

“;I gave everybody a good week,”; the usually gruff and taciturn Wheeler said.

If only we could do the same with predictions for 2010.

Hawaii stands to do good and increase its miserable voting percentages by going to a vote-by-mail system for the looming 1st Congressional District race to replace outgoing Rep. Neil Abercrombie.

Vote by mail works. It worked in Oregon and Washington and when Ann Kobayashi was returned to the City Council in a special election last year, it was vote-by-mail only and the turnout was 41 percent. That doesn't sound good, until you consider that a special election for the same Manoa-Moiliili district was held in 2002 without mail-in balloting and the turnout was 27 percent.

Let's see what Hawaii election officials can do with this year's crop of lemons.

The Legislature will have to see what it can do after the school board, the governor and the teachers union made a mess of attempts to abolish the public school furloughs. Schoolkids appeared only briefly as political pawns as the school board, the union and the governor all used the fiasco to score political points.

The good that can come out of the furlough failure is sober acknowledgment that Hawaii's school system needs a complete makeover.

Finally, the most delicious irony is that Gov. Lingle, after watching environmentalists and the no-growth faction wrap the state's environmental impact laws around her neck and sink both her and the Hawaii Superferry, is now using those same laws for her own political benefit.

Mayor Mufi Hannemann's bid to becoming governor is linked to his ability to pound some stakes in the ground for his multimillion rapid transit scheme. Lingle has to sign off on an EIS and she appears ready to make this Hawaii's most scrutinized EIS ever. She is likely to help Hannemann as much as the mayor helped Lingle during last year's public worker negotiations.

At the end of 2010, it will be the voters, not the politicians or the astrologists, who decide how good a year we have.