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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Sunday, August 20, 2006

It's time to stem the tide; make your vote count

REGISTRATION DEADLINES

For the primary election: Aug. 24.

For the general election: Oct. 9.

IMPORTANT DATES

Sept. 11-21: Period for walk-in absentee voting for the primary election.

Sept. 16: Last day to submit application for absentee voting by mail for the primary election.

Sept. 23: Primary election day; deadline for city/county clerk to receive mailed absentee ballots.

Oct. 24-Nov. 4: Period for walk-in absentee voting for the general election.

Oct. 31: Last day to submit application for absentee voting by mail for the general election.

Nov. 7: General election day; deadline for city/county clerk to receive mailed absentee ballots.

WHERE TO GET MORE INFORMATION

Office of Elections: 453-8683.

City and County of Honolulu: 523-4293.

Hawai'i County: (808) 961-8277.

Maui County: (808) 270-7749.

Kaua'i County: (808) 241-6350.

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If you think your vote doesn't matter, think again.

Even putting aside the Florida presidential voting fiasco, there are numerous examples that clearly illustrate how every vote can make a difference.

Here in Hawai'i, we don't have to look back too far in history to make that point.

In the 1988 primary election, Democrats Connie Chun and Romy Cachola tied that's right, tied in their bid for a state House seat. That same year in the general election, Jim Shon won his state House seat by 48 votes, and political newcomer Bernard Akana, riding a wave of blank votes, toppled incumbent Big Island Mayor Dante Carpenter.

But fast-forward for a moment, beyond the nail-biters. There's no question that this is an important election for Hawai'i.

We have the chance to decide who will be our U.S. senator for the next six years, a pivotal time in terms of both foreign and national policy. This senator will help define our exit strategy in Iraq. This senator will work on our national energy policy at a time when oil prices and dependency are at all-time high. And this senator will help dig us out of a national debt now topping $8 trillion.

We also will decide on both our congressional delegates, including at least one seat who will be a newcomer to Capitol Hill.

We also will have the opportunity to pick our next governor and lieutenant governor, as well as decide who will fill more than 50 seats in the state Legislature.

And let's not ignore the races on a smaller political stage.

With each report on lagging student test scores come complaints about the quality of Hawai'i's public schools. Now is your chance to decide who will sit on the state Board of Education, the panel that helps shape the policies and direction of our public schools.

There also are several council seats open in Honolulu and on the Neighbor Islands.

And folks on Kaua'i and Maui will choose their next mayor.

This election, on a number of levels, will determine a slate of leaders who will shape Hawai'i's energy future at a time when our isolation and dependence on oil keep us incredibly vulnerable. It will reveal who will shape land-use policies that will determine what kind of Hawai'i we will leave for our children.

But don't just vote for the sake of voting; throwing away your vote is just as bad as not voting at all.

Take the time to get up to speed on the issues, the candidates and their positions.

Over the next several weeks, The Advertiser's editorial page will run a series of endorsements. These are the candidates our Editorial Board believes will best serve Hawai'i going into the future.

But don't just let our opinion guide you. Do the legwork.

Read about the candidates' positions on the issues, listen to the debates and public forums, then vote for leaders who reflect your values.

You can't afford not to.