Column: Open primary election in January would be good for Hawaii
Hawaii needs a transparent, open presidential primary managed by the state Office of Elections in which all Hawaii political parties participate on the same day.
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Hawaii needs a transparent, open presidential primary managed by the state Office of Elections in which all Hawaii political parties participate on the same day. Voters should be able to vote as they wish, regardless of party affiliation, and with the process of candidate selection in full public view. The selection of candidates should not be a party-managed candidate preference poll, or one where delegates to the national convention who represent different candidates are selected at a party convention.
Hawaii is often troubled that it is not noticed and that no one on the mainland seems to care about the state. The feeling of abandonment becomes more pronounced when both presidential primary and general election candidates decide not to campaign in Hawaii.
Like Hawaii with a small population of 1.42 million, New Hampshire is a small state with a population of 1.34 million; each state has four electoral votes. But we are far more ethnically diverse and better represent today’s America.
Creating a primary election scheduled in January of a presidential election year, before the New Hampshire primary, just as the Granite State has experienced, we would have news stations from all major mainland and international news organizations descend on Hawaii.
Candidates would be eager to campaign in Hawaii and could very well make political promises to the state that they would keep if elected.
Unlike the late U.S. Sen. Daniel K. Inouye who had years and years of seniority in Congress, the four members of Hawaii’s congressional delegation lack his seniority and political clout, resulting in less influence for Hawaii in Washington. Strategically rethinking Hawaii’s primary election could yield more federal government benefits for the state. And popular interest in our elections would be stimulated, resulting in larger voter turnout.
Not only would mainland and international media cover the primary, but they also would beam pictures of Hawaii’s pristine beaches, alluring seascapes, towering mountains, verdant natural environment, and diverse island culture throughout the globe. And it would all be free. We would not have to pay such huge sums of money to attract events like the Pro Bowl, and would not have to pay as much to fund the Hawaii Tourism Authority.
California — a large state with 55 electoral votes — realized that it was losing an opportunity to gain further political advantage and visibility for the state and Californians. As a remedy, California moved its presidential primary to March from June. We need to do better by scheduling our primary in early January, before the New Hampshire primary.
Hawaii needs to create an open primary where all can vote for the candidate of their choice regardless of party affiliation. Nomination of respective presidential candidates should not be carried out through state party preference polls or state party conventions.
The greater the transparency, the more public trust and enthusiasm in the political process.