Get out and vote to protect important benefits
  • Sunday, January 20, 2019
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Get out and vote to protect important benefits

  • DENNIS ODA / 2016

    A new law allows voters to register at polling sites. People are seen voting at Hahaione Elementary in the 2016 Primary Election.


Hawaii has the dubious distinction of having the lowest voter turnout in the nation. Only about 4 out of every 10 eligible voters cast ballots in the last gubernatorial election in 2014.

The only bright spot in the otherwise dismal voter turnout in Hawaii is statistics on older voters.

People over 50 are the most important voting block in Hawaii and in the nation because we vote in greater numbers than other age groups.

I believe older voters cast more ballots because we are more aware of how our votes directly affect benefits like Medicare and Social Security, caregiving, taxes and financial security.

It’s important not only to vote, but to know where the candidates stand on the issues.

That’s why AARP Hawai‘i sponsored last month’s debate on KHON2 between the two leading candidates for governor in the Democratic primary election. Among other issues, Congresswoman Colleen Hanabusa and Gov. David Ige expressed their opinions about:

>> the kupuna caregiver program to help working caregivers stay in the workplace

>> the Hawai‘i Saves proposal to help small businesses and 216,000 workers with a simple way to save for retirement

>> long-term care

>> paid family leave

If you missed the debate, you can still watch it online at

Voters 50 and older have the power to make candidates address issues important to them and to hold leaders accountable.

Go online to candidate websites, keep up with the news and take advantage of opportunities to meet and ask questions of candidates in the days leading up to Saturday’s primary and November’s general election. Cast an informed vote.

You can also go to stay informed about issues important to older voters and take the AARP pledge to vote.

Although voter turnout is currently low among younger voters, as they age, their voter participation will inevitable rise. And, the issues that are important to today’s older voters will grow in importance to them.

As humorist Mark Twain famously said, “When I was a boy of 14, my father was so ignorant I could hardly stand to have the old man around. But when I got to be 21, I was astonished at how much the old man had learned in seven years.”

So it will be with voters as they gain years and experience. Younger generations will replace older generations over time. But the safety net issues will be as important to them as they are to our kupuna today.

We need to make sure Medicare remains a deal that is not broken and affordable quality health care for seniors continues as generations age.

We must keep Social Security strong so current and future generations can reap the benefits they’ve earned.

All generations will benefit if prescription-drug prices decrease. There is no reason why Americans should continue to pay the highest prescription-drug prices in the world.

Family caregivers of all ages need our support. All workers should have a simple way to save for their retirement.

No matter what your age, make a difference, and get out and vote.

Cast a vote

It’s not too late to register and vote in the primary election.

If you haven’t registered to vote yet, a new law allows voters to register on Election Day. Even though the July 12 online and paper application deadline for the primary election has past, you can still register to vote at walk-in voting sites until Thursday. The law now also allows same-day registration at polling places on Election Day Saturday.

To find out where you can vote today at early walk-in absentee voting places and to find out where to vote on Election Day, go online to

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