States have authority over elections
The Constitution leaves to the states the responsibility for conducting elections. States change voting procedures frequently to safeguard elections and expand voter access.
Elizabeth Jubin Fujiwara makes the unfounded charge that voter procedure changes in Georgia and Arizona were discriminatory and meant to suppress voting by Blacks (“Supreme Court guts Voting Rights Act,” Star-Advertiser, Island Voices, July 7).
In the Georgia case, key changes that applied to all voters included the number of ways voters can identify themselves on absentee ballots; an expansion of in-person early voting; a ban on soliciting votes (popularly known as ballot harvesting); and time limits for requesting and mailing in ballots.
Further, in its dismissal of the Democratic National Committee’s challenge to Arizona’s changes, the Supreme Court noted that to be discriminatory, voting procedure changes have to impose a disproportionate burden on minority voters, and found it was not the case. None of the changes target a group and to claim so is the racism of low expectations — true race-based suppression.
For the People Act sets voting baseline
The continent is awash in voter suppression legislation. Money is flooding our elections and drowning out the people’s voice. Even in Hawaii, we are not immune from the corrosive effects of dark money on our politics: The Legislature recently overrode the veto of Senate Bill 404 (relating to electioneering communications), which will reduce transparency in our local elections.
This leads to the need for H.R.1, the For The People Act, contrary to Curtis Wheeler’s letter (“For the People Act needs vigorous debate,” Star-Advertiser, July 8).
A baseline must be set for voting rights, which H.R.1 will do, ensuring that all eligible citizens nationwide may participate in our democracy.
Further, our elected officials should be focused on the needs of everyday people, not just wealthy special interests.
H.R.1 creates a small-donor citizen-funded elections program to amplify the voices of everyday people, so candidates focus on our priorities, instead of spending time raising money from major donors and wealthy special interests.
We all deserve these freedoms and accountable leaders.
Executive director, Common Cause Hawaii
‘Aunty’s’ B&B does lots of business
Most houses on Oahu right now — with a median sales price at more than $1 million — are being bought by investors. Serfs are supposed to feel pity for the likes of Margaret L H Aurand when this “little old aunty” no longer can freely rent out her spacious investment, on a 15,000-square-foot lot, with an ocean view (“Allow vacation rental hosts to survive,” Star-Advertiser, Island Voices, June 30).
Aurand brings parties averaging nine people, 279 nights a year, to her quiet neighborhood so they can lounge by her pool.
She invested $155,000 in pool pumps, linens and more to get the house ready for these elite tourists, and she has paid $32,000 in taxes on the rental income already, which gives a glimpse of both her expendable and rental income.
If Ordinance 19-18 is too restrictive, she always can sell the inherited home for millions and invest elsewhere.
Oahu needs rail to connect island
In response to “Rail support gone as costs inexplicably climb” (Star-Advertiser, Letters, July 6): The debate over rail’s completion isn’t if, but when rail will be finished. If you look at most established cities like New York, London, Beijing or Tokyo, they all have very efficient transportation systems, usually in the form of a subway. These systems allow each city to work as a cohesive unit by connecting different people and areas of each city.
Whether we like it or not, Oahu will most likely develop further. Before that can happen, Oahu will need a system that can connect different regions of the island together. Rail has the potential to do just that. So even though we face constant frustrations from rail’s consistent delays and new budgets, I say we get it over with and finish rail as soon as we can.
Stop coddling those who refuse vaccine
The new COVID cases (especially with the delta variant) are now rising on the mainland, with a reported alarming increase in pediatric cases. It is no longer (if it ever was) the case that children are not affected by the virus. It is the time to stop coddling the vaccine refusers.
Anyone who works with children should be required to be vaccinated or placed on unpaid leave until they comply. Raise the low-key effort to combat the misinformation about the vaccine. Tell the truth. To those complaining about the governor’s emergency restrictions, just get vaccinated and they will go away. And no, the 70% is not unrealistic; it is easy. Other states are doing it.
The sad truth is that vaccination, like wearing a mask, has been politicized.
St. Louis Heights
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