The world, the nation and Hawaii are currently struggling through deeply troubling and dangerous times.
People are anxious, unsettled and worried. We are frightened for our health, the safety of our families and our loved ones, due to COVID-19. We do not know if we will continue to be employed, given the enormous economic devastation the coronavirus is wreaking on Hawaii, and whether we will be able to provide food and shelter for ourselves and those who depend on us.
We are no longer in charge of our lives or masters of our own fate. We depend, now more than ever, on elected officials to provide guidance on when it is safe to go places, which places are safe to go to — essentially how to survive.
Unfortunately, the leadership from both the national and local governments have left something to be desired. There are over 200,000 Americans dead of COVID-19 and counting. And, Oahu just exited its second shutdown after Hawaii was initially hailed as a model for controlling coronavirus infections.
While it may feel as if we have no control and our lives are being dictated by outside agents, this is simply untrue. Now is the time and the season to speak out through the power of our vote. With a single cast ballot, it is a roar of our needs.
With Hawaii’s vote-by-mail system, ballots are being mailed to all registered voters on Oahu Monday and today, all registered voters on Hawaii County on Wednesday, all registered voters on Maui County on Thursday, and all registered voters on Kauai County on Friday. Do not let this opportunity pass to make your needs heard.
Your one vote absolutely matters. It matters because it is your right to be heard, and you deserve to be and will be heard. Your voice is just as important as anyone else’s on who should represent you and your needs in elected office. Your one vote can decide close races, especially in Hawaii, where many of our races are decided by razor thin margins. In truth, if you do not vote, then we end up with a government that does not represent all of us but just the select few of us, and our democracy of We The People will slowly perish.
When you receive your ballot package, please vote. You will have the opportunity to study at home the candidates and county charter amendments. Return your voted ballot by U.S. Postal Service no later than Oct. 27, and the postage is even prepaid.
After Oct. 27, please return your ballot to a voter service center or drop box located in your county: elections.hawaii.gov/voter-service-centers-and-places-of-deposit/. Ballots must be received by 7 p.m. Nov. 3 to count.
You are able to track the status of your ballot and can even download a virtual “I Voted” sticker at ballotstatus.hawaii.gov.
It is time to reclaim your power and find shelter from the storm through the vote. Rise up and vote.
Sandy Ma is executive director of Common Cause Hawaii, a nonpartisan organization focused on creating an open, honest and accountable government.