Saturday, January 21, 2006

Primary Rules!

Since I usually work the polls during the elections, our biggest problem has always been “Spoiled ballets*,” which this coming year, we can anticipate to be a huge problem -- because of the many crossover votes, when one party has many choices for a single office and the other is uncontested. So in the interest of not having to explain this a zillion times in the coming year, as a public service to all our beleaguered and chronically short staffed poll workers and voters:

The primary ballots work like this: Hawaii law does not require a prior declaration of party affiliation so the ballot will contain the choices for all the parties -- but once a single partisan (party) vote has been cast, all other subsequent selections must similarly be within that party, as delineated by the different colored blocs. That means that one cannot necessarily vote for all their favorite candidates -- if their favorite candidates are from different parties (including Libertarian, Green, Socialist, Democrat, Republican, etc) -- in the PRIMARY ELECTION.

With that dilemma in mind, a voter who wants to make the greatest difference and ensure that their votes are counted -- must first determine the ONE race of their highest priority and significance they wish their vote to be recorded in, which may limit their subsequent choices for the other offices, to only those within that bloc. Those are the rules -- no ifs, ands and buts. Failure to comply will disqualify all one’s selections.

This manner of voting allows for Democrats to vote for Republicans, and Republicans to vote for Democrats -- but not both, or all the parties! One is limited to a single party in the PRIMARY ELECTION. In the GENERAL ELECTION, one is free to vote for the candidate regardless of party. Many people do not understand this distinction, which is the source of much confusion and frustration at the polling places -- particularly during the Primary election.

The General Elections usually run a whole lot smoother even though more people turn out for the General Elections -- thinking that is the one that really matters. However, when there are hotly contested primary races, you may not get to vote for your favorite candidate in the general election because they have not won the primary election -- that allows them to run in the general election. In most years, that doesn’t make a difference because most incumbencies are uncontested. When an incumbent is challenged within their own party, the primary election may actually be the more important election, making the difference.

Democrats do not necessarily have to vote only as Democrats -- and Republican only for Republicans; they should vote for those who best represent the future of Hawaii -- with the greatest impact and capacity to rise to those new challenges in an ever-changing world -- with fairness and representation for all.

Another question frequently asked by voters, and clogs up the voting booths, are those asking, "I have no idea what this proposition is about or who these candidates are -- what should I do?" I advise under those circumstances not to exercise a vote because by "guessing" in that way, they're cancelling out somebeody's well-informed and hard-earned vote -- and the intelligent and responsible thing to do is not to exercise a vote. One is allowed to vote on those matters they wish to vote on -- but not required to vote on every issue or office -- and especially on those for which they have no idea what they are voting on.

"No" should mean no, and "Yes" should mean yes, and no vote, leaves that choice to those who are well-informed on that issue -- rather than that it should be decided randomly, and often manipulatively by the wording that often deliberately confuses the issue.

* "Spoiled ballots" will always be detected by the ballot counter -- when the voter places them in -- whereupon the voter is given a chance to obtain another ballot, at the head of the line, which of course, annoys some people who wonder why others seem to be given preferential treatment in obtaining their ballots. That procedure will be repeated until the voter gets it right -- so no votes are invalidated for that reason.


At January 21, 2006 2:11 PM, Blogger Mike Hu said...

Speaking of elections, the Office of Elections always doesn't have enough people volunteering to work, and so those who do, are therefore understaffed and have to scramble to make things work -- as smoothly as they do.

The pay is $75-$100+ for the whole day, 5;30am to 7pm. Generally, the assignment is in the precinct one lives -- if possible, but they have to spead out the experience and manpower as far as it goes, so that every precinct has at least one if not more people who are experienced and the rest can learn as they go along.

Once the day gets under way, most of the jobs can be done sitting down -- and the jobs are rotated so it's not boring. The only requirement is that one must be a registered voter, which means 18 in Hawaii.

The numbers to call to sign up as a poll worker are:

Country of Oahu -- 453-VOTE(8683)
County of Hawaii -- 961-8277
County of Maui -- 270-7749
County of Kauai -- 241-6350

Before the elections, everyone is requested to attend one training session (unpaid) and (re)learn about the election process.

This year, the Primary Election is Saturday, Spetember 23, 2006. The General Election is Tuesday, November 7, 2006.

At January 21, 2006 3:26 PM, Blogger slantrider said...

Thanks for the comments. I work election polls here in Michigan. What do you think of making working on the polls like jury duty? One would not have to vote but must work...and how about an election weekend; say Fourth of July?

At January 22, 2006 10:41 AM, Blogger Mike Hu said...

The problem is the simple one of lack of communication and information -- and not the need for more government coercion being required.

You’d think it’d be a perfect fit for the civics classes in high school -- who then could provide a whole bunch of interested and informed people upon graduation, or an educational, intermittent gig for college students about politics as a reality instead of nothing but ideologies and demagogueries. Instead, because of their experience with the government education system, they want to have as little to do with it as possible in the future -- which is a pretty sad commentary and reflection on government workers.

And the newspapers keep insisting that all politicians are crooks, as well as everybody else in society for that matter except themselves who are suppressing communications and information so they can have the power themselves -- and so people want no association with any of these people, jockeying for power, and to hang on to power and position for as long as they can until it is pried from their fingers.

It’s a real problem that the young people are missing from the voting process -- and it has become virtually a retired person’s activity, and so the Ted Kennedys are speaking as the voice of youthful idealism rather than as he has now become, the voice of a bitter, tired, resentful old codger still thinking he’s the leader of new ideas, instead of his one, which is to remain in power until he dies.

Havc you noticed that? In the ‘60s and ‘70s, there was a lot of youthful ideas and people challenging the status quo, and now they’ve become the entrenched status quo and are talking as though they are the future of society rather than its past. Unlike the ‘60s and ‘70s, the young people have not emerged to take over the leadership but are allowing the Jimmy Carters and Jesse Jacksons to continue to lead them into the ‘60s. They liked that old world because they could speak for everybody else -- as the media anointed spokesperson. When everybody can now speak for themselves, they insist we need to go back to the old injustices and inequalities so they can remain the titular heads.

At May 05, 2006 2:38 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...



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