Hawaii voter turnout lowest in the nation

Published: Oct. 23, 2012 at 10:52 PM HST|Updated: Oct. 24, 2012 at 3:56 AM HST
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James Koshiba
James Koshiba
Dan Boylan
Dan Boylan
Juli Burdon
Juli Burdon
Leo Scott
Leo Scott

Voter apathy in Hawaii is getting national attention with a new CNN report that places the state rock-bottom when it comes to election day turnout.

Hawaii once boasted the highest voter participation in the country during the early years of statehood. But in the 2010 election, only about half of the state's registered voters cast a ballot.

The reasons are mixed. Some say the state's one-party dominance and big-money politics are turning off voters.

Others say voters are content with the state's progressive policies -- such as universal healthcare -- and its ethnically diverse political leaders and don't want to see major changes.

James Koshiba of Kanu Hawaii is trying to improve Hawaii's weak voting record. His group recently registered 2,500 new voters but he says it's an uphill battle.

"It's just that there is a lot of cynicism and some is well justified ... a cynicism and discouragement of politics and the political process," he said.

Local political analyst Dan Boylan voters are turned off by one-party system and endless negative advertising during the election season. But he believes that groups of voters also enjoy the status quo.

"There a lot of things that make you happy with the politics of the state or content with the politics," he said.

That's a sentiment shared by this local resident.

"I think Hawaii is naturally a happy place and so if your happy you're not super excited to see a lot of change happen," said Juli Burdon, an HPU student.

Other see voting as their civic duty.

"To be an American and to be able to chose our leaders is really a unique privilege," said Leo Scott, a local librarian.

Will the low turnout trend continue in 2012? We'll find out in two weeks.

Copyright 2012 Hawaii News Now. All rights reserved.