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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Tuesday, November 5, 2002

Candidates dash to finish

Democrat Mazie Hirono helps serve lunch at the Mo'ili'ili Senior Center. Hirono and running mate Matt Matsunaga campaigned around O'ahu and the Big Island yesterday.

Eugene Tanner • The Honolulu Advertiser

Republican Linda Lingle signed autographs for supporters she encountered while campaigning at Bishop Square with her running mate, Duke Aiona.

Deborah Booker • The Honolulu Advertiser

 •  Voter's Guide

By Kevin Dayton
Advertiser Capitol Bureau Chief

After all the work, all the money, all the advertising, all the speeches and sweat and sign-waving the candidates have invested in the race for governor, the outcome hinges on today's turnout.

Hawai'i will go to the polls today to fill 103 elected positions ranging from the Board of Education to the House and Senate to governor.

Democrat Mazie Hirono and Republican Linda Lingle spent about $6.8 million on the campaign, short of the record $8 million spent in the 1998 governor's race. Much of the money raised in the final weeks has been directed not only at advertising but at massive get-out-the-vote efforts that include phone banks, mail drops and door-knocking by activists of both parties.

Election essentials

• Poll hours: 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. People in line at 6 p.m. will be allowed to vote.

• You'll need: An ID card with photo and signature, such as a driver's license.

• Best times: Lines usually are shortest at 9:30 to 11 a.m. and 1 to 4 p.m.

• Lots to choose: Here's a reminder that all O'ahu voters can vote for seven Board of Education seats, regardless of geographic district. All voters statewide can vote for the five Office of Hawaiian Affairs seats.

• Ballot preview: Voters can view their specific ballot at the State of Hawai'i, Office of Elections Web site. Type in your state House district number, click on your polling place and preview your ballot before going to vote.

• Time off: The law entitles people to two consecutive hours off from work to vote if they do not have two hours available before or after work.

• Need help? Call the state Office of Elections at 453-8683.

Voters' Guide: Learn about the candidates and ballot issues and return to the site tonight for up-to-the-minute election results.

Although Hawai'i Democrats have traditionally been better at getting their supporters to the polls, the Republicans have invested unprecedented effort in collecting telephone numbers, e-mail addresses and home addresses of their supporters across the Islands to be used for a final get-out-the-vote push.

Lingle yesterday urged a gathering of Hawai'i Hotel Association members in Waikiki to persuade their friends and colleagues to get to the polls.

"Our supporters are enthusiastic," she said. "I think if we just add supporters, I think we have more supporters than our opponent. But you don't win by who has the most supporters. You win by who gets the most votes on Election Day."

On the Democratic side, unions such as the Hotel Employees and Restaurant Employees Local 5 are staging massive phone banking efforts for Hirono, with supporters also canvassing Democrat-leaning neighborhoods.

"The unions have really reached out to their own members to give them the information as to our support for working people, and everything that they care about, and they're getting that message out even as we're standing here today," Hirono said during a visit to a senior center in Mo'ili'ili yesterday.

Bill Daly, chairman of Voter Contact Services of Honolulu, which provides data about voters to political campaigns, said a number of studies have sketched out some clear turnout patterns. One basic rule is Japanese-American voters in Hawai'i tend to turn out in numbers about 10 percent higher than the state average.

For nearly 50 years, Japanese-American voters have been the backbone of the Democratic Party, and The Honolulu Advertiser/News 8 Hawai'i Poll published last Friday showed that still holds true: In polling last week, Japanese-American voters were the group most likely to say they support Hirono and her running mate, Matt Matsunaga.

Caucasian voters tend to turn out about 10 percent lower than the state average, Daly said, which could be a problem for the Republicans. Caucasian voters are by far the ones most likely to say they support Lingle, according to the Hawai'i Poll.

The other rule of turnout is that people who have been registered longer are more reliable voters, Daly said, with the very lowest turnout among people who registered two years ago. Those patterns hold true in communities across the country, he said.

"That's what's going to make a difference: It's not the registration effort; it's the GOTV effort," Daly said, using an abbreviation for get-out-the-vote. "The unions are very good. The Republicans are a lot better at it than they used to be."

Both sides have used absentee voting as a way to round up votes, with elections officials estimating yesterday that more than 100,000 people would vote absentee in the general election.

Micah Kane, chairman of the Hawai'i Republican Party, said after years of rebuilding, the Republicans are in a "structural position" to turn out the vote.

"We know who our supporters are," Kane said. In 1998, he said, "we knew we had supporters, but didn't know where they were."

Members of the GOP will be walking door-to-door, working phone banks, offering rides and generally fielding far more get-out-the-vote troops this year than in 1998, he said.

On the other side, "Democrats know how to mobilize; it's very grassroots, it's very personal," said Andy Winer, director of the Hawai'i Democratic Coordinated Campaign.

"They clearly have more money, but whether they're effective or not remains to be seen," Winer said of the Republicans. "I'll believe it when I see it."

Reach Kevin Dayton at kdayton@honoluluadvertiser.com or 525-8070.