Opinion: Observations of a poll worker: Why voting is important

Precinct 1103 at the Kihei Community Center felt slow and steady during my time working at the polls on Tuesday, Nov. 4. There were never more than 30 people in line at any given time, and sometimes we would only have one or two people show up in the span of 30 minutes. I thought working the polls would be busy and stressful, but really, not many people showed up.

First, while it was slow, it was still an increase from last year’s elections. According to veteran poll workers at my precinct, the numbers were much larger for the precinct this year. The final turnout at Precinct 1103 was 1,033 total votes. While this is not an outstanding turnout, it is an increase from the generally low numbers seen in previous elections.

According to “Maui Now,” 52% of registered voters on Maui showed up to cast a ballot on Election Day. This was most likely due to the GMO issues that have been debated recently. In fact, there were many people that showed up claiming they only wanted to vote on that issue and nothing else. This presents a problem to me.

While it is nice to see an increase in numbers, it does not bode well that it was only because of one initiative. This is not a good sign for a democracy. People should be eager to vote and contribute to their local communities in any way possible. However, it seems that most of Maui county could care less about the local government and how it affects us.

Although local government does not have as much power as the federal government per se, it is still an important building block in the democracy that makes up America. Local government has much more to do with the county’s functionality than people tend to think.

Local representatives, such as county council members, help maintain schools and keep the island in check by establishing rules for businesses and industrial development. It also helps to regulate the affairs of the police and fire departments. Local government is a very important aspect of life in America.

But you may be thinking, “My one vote won’t make a difference,” and sure, you are right in some respect. One vote generally does not make a difference. But when almost half of Maui voters take that mindset, it makes a very big difference. This is why voting, even if it is only one vote, is important.

I encourage everyone to recognize the importance of local government and vote when the time comes. Go get registered to vote if you have not already; it is not a difficult process. It is the duty of an American citizen to take part in the shaping of their life through voting. So if you really want to make a difference in the nation, even just on a small scale, start by casting a ballot.