Afterthoughts: I Love Being Able to Vote in Hawai‘i Without Having to Get Dressed
This election season has finally given me something I can look forward to in politics: the opportunity to vote in my pajamas. Granted, absentee ballots are nothing new to Hawai‘i; in 2014’s primary election, more ballots were cast early than on election day, and of those early votes, 83% were by absentee. You would think, as an inherently lazy person, I would’ve opted to get my ballot by mail years ago. But that would’ve required some paperwork and forethought. This is why I don’t cancel subscriptions to magazines I don’t read and memberships to gyms I don’t go to—in my mind, it’s more effort to change the status quo.
And I actually liked going to a polling place as a public display of community engagement. Before the Revolutionary War, people would just shout their votes at carnivals. Even though I can’t tell who everyone is voting for when I see them standing in line, it’s fun to guess and see who is participating. But voting in person did present some problems. More than once, I’ve gone into that booth thinking I knew who I would vote for only to see some unfamiliar names on the list. Then, sequestered behind the curtain, I would do quick Google checks to make sure I weighed all my options. As usual, most mayoral debates this summer only included a third of the 15 candidates running. And I can’t be the only one perplexed by my right to vote for Office of Hawaiian Affairs Moloka‘i resident trustee. I’ve never even been there. Now that I get a paper ballot weeks before it’s due, there are no surprises and I can take time to research.
After completing the entire process in my PJs and at my leisure, I gotta say, I’m a fan. No anxiety over the pen not working, no worrying about taking too long in the booth while the line outside snakes around the building. With nobody waiting for me, I made a point to spend even longer coloring in those boxes, just because I could. Posting an “I Voted” sticker on my Instagram story won’t be quite the same as walking around with an actual sticker on my shirt (yes, I wear it proudly), but who’s looking at my shirt these days? The cat?
I’m hoping the ease of this will increase Hawai‘i’s notoriously low voter turnout. In 2016, only 34.8% of eligible voters—an all-time low for the state—showed up to the polls in the primary. But other states have seen increased voter turnout once they switched to vote by mail, including Colorado and Utah. Once we’ve worked out any kinks, we can talk about joining the 19 other states (and D.C.) that have automatic voter registration. And I’d love to vote online someday. Why not? I already renew my car registration, pay my taxes, shop and bank online. All of that involves confidential info that I wouldn’t want compromised, so there’s gotta be a safe, encrypted way to vote online, too, right? And voting online would mean I don’t even have to walk my ballot to the mailbox. A lazy girl can dream.