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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Sunday, November 5, 2006

A chance to make a difference

Jerry Burris
Public Affairs Editor

So let's review the bidding:

Campaign for the U.S. Senate. Check.

Campaign for two U.S. House seats. Check.

Governor's race. Of course.

Legislature: Nearly a third of the Senate and the entire state House up for grabs. Check.

State Board of Education. Check.

Office of Hawaiian Affairs (and don't forget, everyone can vote). Check.

Constitutional amendments. Check.

Various county charter amendments. Check.

There's just no end to the mischief a voter could get involved in on Tuesday when Hawai'i joins the rest of the nation in going to the polls for the 2006 general election.

Predictions are rampant that the turnout will be low and voter participation desultory, at best. That's a good bet. Voter turnout has been poor for years and there is no reason to expect things to change this time around.

Which means, of course, that a relatively small handful of people (heavily tilted toward interest groups) will decide who will run our state, help run our nation, our school system and our institutions for the next several years. Call it default democracy, and it doesn't seem to make much sense.

The odd thing is that there is plenty at stake here.

Do you believe Hawai'i should have a Republican voice in Congress, to get our Island point of view into the inner sanctums of the GOP caucuses? If so, you have a choice to make that so.

Do you believe the Democrats are likely to regain control in either the House or the Senate in Congress and thus Hawai'i has a chance to put one of our Democrats into a position of extraordinary power and influence?

If so, you have a choice to make it happen.

Do you believe that our public school system is vitally important and needs all the nurturing and leadership it can get? If you do and you should then you have a chance to help select the folks who can make your wishes reality on the state school board.

Do you care about how our university is managed or whether we should have more or less turnover among the judges that decide our legal fate? If you do, you have a chance to make your voice heard.

Do you want bikeways in Honolulu or more property tax money set aside for environmental protection and affordable housing? Guess what? You can say yes or no.

You may not care about all the candidates or all the issues, but if there is one thing alone that matters on the ballot for you, then get out there and vote.

Reach Jerry Burris at jburris@honoluluadvertiser.com.