Vote by mail to save the day
Our democracy is built on the idea that every citizen can participate in the electoral process and each ballot counts equally.
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Our democracy is built on the idea that every citizen can participate in the electoral process and each ballot counts equally. Voting is a right and it should be one of the most convenient things for people to do.
Yet we know that serious barriers exist to people voting. The reality of modern life in Hawaii means most people work multiple jobs. The mounting demands of work and family make it increasingly hard for those struggling in Hawaii to make time to do anything in addition to the everyday grind — including something as important as voting.
The reality is this: When it comes down to it, people will prioritize their spiritual and mental rejuvenation with a day on the beach or on a trail over standing in a long line on one specific day waiting to cast a paper ballot. Our repeatedly low rates of voter turnout tell it all.
But keeping people engaged in voting is crucial to our democracy. So why aren’t we doing more to facilitate this? Let’s make vote by mail a reality.
People want it. Vote by mail is growing in popularity. In 2016, more than half of all registered voters mailed their ballots in early. Doing so saved these voters precious time, and allowed them to thoughtfully consider all of the important choices before them.
It complements other voting methods already in place and creates additional opportunities to cast a ballot. Contrary to some reports, vote by mail will never replace or do away with traditional in-person voting or early walk-in voting. Instead, vote by mail meets voters where they are so that constituents can engage in the electoral process no matter how busy their schedule.
It also saves us a bunch of money. Vote-by-mail systems are projected to save the state $750,000 every election cycle in reduced administrative expenses.
For the Sierra Club, supporting vote by mail is about keeping our democracy strong.
We understand the importance of civic engagement and putting the right people in elected office — and it begins with voter participation in each and every election cycle. We need a voting process that is transparent and accessible because we also realize that the same big-money fossil fuel corporations polluting our air, water and climate are also polluting our democracy, flooding our political and judicial systems with corporate money.
They are also taking aim at our right to vote by trying to make it harder for regular people to participate in electoral politics. We can’t let them do this. That is why we support efforts to make voting more accessible.
Voting is the most convenient way for voters to elect their leaders — whether those constituents choose the traditional in-person method of voting or the option of mailing in their ballot.
With vote by mail for all registered voters, Sierra Club members and supporters can stay engaged with our political system without giving up any time outdoors doing what they love in Hawaii’s unique natural environment. It is a win-win-win for Hawaii.
Marti Townsend is director of Sierra Club Hawaii.