A national report reconfirmed last week that Hawaii continues to have the worst voter turnout in the nation.
Our state lawmakers are working on the theory that turnout will improve if we make it easier to vote. They are moving bills that would replace most election-day voting with voting by mail— on ballots sent to every voter.
But the one thing that would do the most to improve turnout in Hawaii is something our sitting politicians aren't likely to embrace – getting more people to run against them in more contested races.
If you look at the states where turnout is highest – they are battlegrounds — places where voters feel their vote matters in the outcome, or bring change.
In Hawaii, that would require a major change in the electoral playing field. Like term limits which force incumbents out of their seats every few years. Or multi-member districts – which give new people, and minority parties, a better chance of winning office.
The opportunity for that kind of change is coming next year when voters will be asked whether they want a constitutional convention. We haven't had one since 1978.
A con-con would be our only chance to remake a political system that is clearly broken.