Some candidates worry negative ads, scandals are discouraging voter turnout

The voter turnout this primary is expected to lag the record turnout in 2020.
Published: Aug. 13, 2022 at 5:34 PM HST|Updated: Aug. 13, 2022 at 5:51 PM HST
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HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - The voter turnout this primary is expected to lag the record turnout in 2020.

While turnout isn’t benefiting from a bitter presidential race and a hotly contested primary for Honolulu mayor like 2020, some candidates worry the recent slew of negative attacks is discouraging people from voting this year.

“It is unfortunate that there were really last-minute mudslinging and we don’t want people to be discouraged because of the level of negativeness,” said state Rep. Sylvia Luke, who is running for lieutenant governor.

“That the super PAC in this race has played a significantly by putting in $3.5 million just to keep me out of the lieutenant governor’s race. I think people can see through that.”

Luke has been the target of a massive ad campaign by the Super PAC “Be Change Now” connecting her to indicted businessman Martin Kao.

She said the ads were a smear.

Some candidates say the negative ads ― featuring the voices of special interests ― are drowning out the voices of the regular guy, further discouraging voter turnout.

“It’s the flood of money that a lot of people are just feeling like they’re getting left out ― the voices of people that don’t have those millions of dollars to lobby,” said Sergio Alcubilla, Democratic candidate for Congress.

Others say the recent public corruption scandals are also turning off voters.

“You have this negativity coming out with the campaign season. You also go all this corruption that occurred with the indictment of Keith Kaneshiro ... and Kalani English going to jail,” said former Lt. Gov. James “Duke” Aiona, who is running for governor as a Republican.

“You have more indictments down the line. People are really fed up with that.”

It’s unclear who will benefit if turnout is low. But in tight races like the Democratic primary for Lieutenant Governor it’s adding more drama and uncertainty in a race could go down to the wire.

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