Can Our Hawaiian Spring be a game changer in this election?

If Hawaii’s Facebook community got involved in this year’s elections, it could determine the outcome of every single election in our state including the Presidential contest.

We Have Power

Generation “F” (us folks that regularly go to Facebook) does not understand how much political power it has, in my view. Recent research indicates there are 709,960 people on Facebook that live in Hawaii 18 years or older. By comparison, in the 2010 election there were 385,385 votes cast in the Governor’s race and that election was decided by 65,413 votes, less than 10% of Hawaii’s Facebook community.

Zip code 96706 which roughly includes districts 42 & 43, has 47,040 Facebook adults. District 42 and 43 were decided by 613 and 3,014 votes respectively.

The takeaway: less than 10 percent of Hawaii’s facebook community is all that’s needed to make big differences in political contests.

Uh, Duh! Moment

Some people have “Ah Ha!” moments. Not me. I get “Uh, DUH!” moments and I hope you just got one too. Because voter turnout is so poor, a very small number of voters can make a very big difference. Generation F can swing any election in Hawaii, whether it be the Governor, District 42, or even the fabled 2008 Presidential race (where Obama won in Hawaii by 205,305 votes).

The IfThen Road To Future

The road to success is paved with a thousand “Ifs” and here’s ours:

IF Hawaii Facebook users registered to vote and
IF they voted in the General Election AND changed the outcome of some key races
THEN we would witness the “Click Heard Around the World”
AND THEN we would have set Hawaii’s political future on a completely new path and quite possibly inspire the nation to follow our example.

Big Hopes and Big Dreams are always fun. Wouldn’t it be great to make something really big happen in Hawaii? Isn’t it time? Most importantly, why not? And even more important, why not right now?

Shall We Play A Game?

One way we are trying to get more Generation F voters is to make voting fun and entertaining. The idea behind Our Hawaiian Spring is to introduce game mechanics into the voting dynamic and have an ongoing, open voting platform from now until election night. Political junkies are always participating in one online poll or another and there is a similar element of Our Hawaiian Spring but unlike most polls, this one will run for months AND you can change your vote, anytime.

The game element of Our Hawaiian Spring has a collection of “challenges” which earn points upon successful completion. This integrates with your social network so you can see where you stand against your friends on a leaderboard. There are some pretty good quizzes to play and Civil Beat thankfully includes references to let you brush up on your knowledge before going for the points.

Get Social

Our Hawaiian Spring has some neat social integrations. You can see aggregate totals of your friends (everyone’s vote is completely confidential and not shared or accessible). My own personal screen raised my eyebrows. Check this out:

I was pretty surprised that my friends that voted are evenly split on all except President Obama and I would have never guessed that to be the case. Scoring points shows up on your wall and if you want to go loud and proud with your vote, you can choose to broadcast it as well (but you have to explicitly do so).

Sharing and Spreading the Word

One feature I’m particularly interested in tracking is the sharing widgets. Not only can you put a small banner on your site, but with some supplied scripts, you can use advanced integration to extract data from Our Hawaiian Spring and publish it on your website. For example if you have an interest in the Presidential race you can show both candidates side by side along with their current voting percentages. It might be fun to post these poll results during a live debate and see if anyone changes their votes.

Now It’s Your Turn

If you believe that getting people to vote is important for Hawaii, you can help. Play the game yourself. Invite your friends to play. Publish a widget on your website. Are you a campaign volunteer? Get your candidate to encourage supporters to vote online. Just consider this for a moment:

If each of us got our friends to play the game and register to vote, we could dwarf previous turnout numbers and most certainly have the collective power to change the course of this election. Of course, that implies that we actually want to bring about political change.

Let’s Turn This Into A Movement

The name “Our Hawaiian Spring” was influenced by the Arab Spring where ordinary people brought about great change. Are you involved with a civic organization? Join the movement. Get your membership to participate; think of Our Hawaiian Spring as your own tool to facilitate a get-out-the-vote movement. We’ve started Facebook Groups to facilitate political discussion and debate along with a Facebook Page to follow for news and updates. Spring into Action!

It’s Our Turn Now

We of Generation F hold tremendous power. However this power must be focused and harnessed in order to have any effect. The first step, in my view, is to get people to commit to vote. The multiplier effect of social media sharing has the potential to rapidly spread and get hundreds of thousands of people involved. When people are involved, they will be interested. If they are interested they will care. If they care they will choose and this time around, our choice can bring about a decisive outcome. It’s a big deal.

The political landscape in Hawaii has been relatively stagnant for a generation and in my view this has not helped our state, our environment, or our people. Perhaps many of us don’t vote or get involved because of a sense of despair and powerlessness that devolves into an “Ainokea” conclusion. It doesn’t have to be that way; if we simply vote like we click, we can forever change Hawaii’s political landscape. Let’s do this!

About the author: Peter Kay is long-time kama`aina and serial tech entrepreneur that enjoys leveraging technology and media to revolutionize the way people work, play, and govern. You can read Peter Kay’s extended bio here and reach him at @peterkay on twitter.