Why does voting matter?

I could try to guilt you into voting by writing about all of the countries in the world where people would martyr themselves in order for their friends and families to be able to vote.

I could tell you that it is your responsibility and that you are being a lousy citizen if you don’t vote.

I could tell you how horrible some of the people running for office are and how it will literally be your fault if they won and if you didn’t vote.

Here is the thing though, none of those arguments would work. Why? Because I can’t force you to care. I can’t force anyone to care about anything, let alone a process that is ripe with greed and corruption. 

So I will take another approach: I will tell you why I am voting in the primary election on Aug. 11.

Voters wait for the chance to cast their ballots at the Manoa Elementary School polling place in November 2014.

Brian Tseng/Civil Beat

I will be voting this year because I have issues that matter to me. 

As someone who used to be houseless, the plight of those without shelters matter to me and my 700-square-foot coffee shack is not big enough to have everyone come live with me. Addicts, alcoholics and those living with mental illness are being left alone with barely any resources and government officials who are more than happy to speak about them but not to them.

My neighbors who are farmers are struggling to make a living and in danger of losing their generational homes. Friends are leaving our islands because housing costs are too expensive and they have to choose between sheltering their families or feeding them. People in my community are losing their jobs because there is not enough childcare for their children and the public transportation system is not reliable enough for them to be consistent when they are on call.

Large corporations are trying to destroy our natural resources and polluting our neighborhoods. Disabled workers are legally allowed to be paid pennies on the dollar. Millionaires have co-opted the medical marijuana market and are charging up to four times the going rate at their dispensaries while small farmers who were trying to help their friends and neighbors are sitting in jail.

The largest subdivision in the country has no access to county water and although parcels are cheap, it costs over $400 to bring water to them when needed. Neighbor islanders have to pay out of pocket and fly to Oahu in order to testify in person because our politicians have been killing the video conferencing bill for years: behind closed doors.

Show Up!

Those are a few of the reasons that I am voting. If I vote and I know my elected officials are, I can hold them accountable. If one thing that I write in a publication or on my facebook page or on my blog can mobilize one person to take action, then I have done well. 

I too have been discouraged by the incremental change that we fight for, and often lose. But things are changing. People are starting to take action. 

This year there are so many non-“career politician” candidates running for office. Many have put their lives on hold, moved in with family members, and worn out many pairs of shoes by walking their districts and sign waving and listening to their constituents.

Many are opening themselves up to ridicule from big monied interests. 

If they can do all that because they desire to fight on my behalf, the least I can do is show up and vote.

This year Hawaii has same day registration. You can show up anytime between July 30 (early in person voting) and Aug. 9. You can also walk in on primary day, Aug. 11 to register and vote for these heroes who are ready to fight for you. 

Voting locations can be found here.

If there is even one issue that you care about, you can do something about it. You can vote. I am a voter and you can be one too. 

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