In spite of warnings from civic groups like Common Cause Hawaii, the state Office of Elections has been burying its head in the sand about the problems we are going to face on Election Day.
As Dawn Morais Webster pointed out, there will be only two voting service centers available to help the 100,000 voters on Oahu who have never voted by mail before (“Too few voter service centers guarantees voter suppression,” Star-Advertiser, July 5).
Assume that only 10% of them have a question or a problem. That means 10,000 people will be calling or lining up at City Hall or Kapolei Hale, or more likely, just giving up. There will be only two service centers on Hawaii island and one each on the other neighbor islands — more problems guaranteed.
Meanwhile, the Office of Elections has spent $1 million in federal voting funds to do the vote counting at the overpriced, white-elephant Hawaii Convention Center.
Tear down ‘blue wall of silence’ for transparency
The state police officers’ union wants residents to lobby the governor to veto the police accountability bill, House Bill 285, despite overwhelming support by the Legislature (“Hawaii State Legislature passes police reform bill,” Star- Advertiser, Top News, July 6).
If you are following the debate for having a national police database — so officers fired or suspended for misconduct and criminal behavior can’t easily join another police department — you don’t want officers here to do the same.
While the Honolulu police chief argues that HPD lacks the degree of racial bias found in mainland police departments, research has not borne that out. State Reps. John Mizuno and Rida Cabanilla, according to an article in Civil Beat, said that people of color — especially recent immigrants — do experience racism in the islands.
Two respected Honolulu police commissioners resigned in frustration over their inability to examine police cover- ups. We are still awaiting the facts of the Kaneohe man who died recently as three officers were subduing him.
I support any union standing up for its members’ rights and benefits, but it is time throughout America for the “blue wall of silence” to accept change and support accountability and transparency.
Concerns about COVID and mail-in voter fraud
I agree that Hawaii ought to be very careful with resuming tourism. Like many other places very sensibly do, we’d be wiser to accept tourists only from localities where COVID-19 is in decline and well-managed. Real-time monitoring of arrivals is smart, too.
Also, I am much concerned with potential voter fraud this November. As others have pointed out, with a highly polarized upcoming election and no shortage of dishonest people around, this is no unwarranted fear. With our own low incidence of COVID-19, our good containment management, and a smart, responsible population, I don’t see why, in Hawaii, mail-in ballots should be necessary for all — or why we can’t go through the relatively small trouble of facilitating more in-person voting (at least for those who prefer it).
Protect aina by speaking out against overfishing
Mahalo for Diane Shepherd’s excellent column, “Climate change damaging fish stocks” (Star-Advertiser, Island Voices, July 8). Too bad, though, that the headline missed her point — namely that we’ve also got a huge problem with overfishing.
The good news is that overfishing can be addressed at the local level. Shepherd outlined practical steps and urged concerned readers (ideally everyone in our Aloha State) to support protection of the aina with testimony to the Board of Land and Natural Resources at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Oppose U.S. dollars for military aid to Dutarte
July 15 is Tax Day, and it is a good time to reflect on how our tax dollars are being used. According to the War Resisters League, 27% of the 2019 U.S. budget went to the military ($857 billion) and another 20% ($644 billion) went for past wars, including interest on the growing national debt. That’s nearly half of the U.S. government’s total budget, leaving less money for human needs and services, health care, education, infrastructure repair and environmental protection.
Making matters worse, our government is giving our tax dollars to murderous autocrats like Rodrigo Duterte of the Philippines to repress their citizens. Direct U.S. military aid to Duterte’s regime totaled over $193.5 million in 2018.
Human rights advocates in the Philippines and around the world are calling for an end to military aid to the Philippines. The U.S. Congress is now considering the Philippine Human Rights Act (PHRA), which would suspend aid to the Philippines until Duterte ends his repressive measures and killings.
On this tax day, we need to urge our congressional representatives, especially U.S. Sen. Brian Schatz, to support PHRA and oppose further military aid to the Philippines. Our tax dollars are better used for pandemic relief efforts at home and in hard-hit countries like Brazil.
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