VIEWPOINT: Democratic nominating process arrives in Hawai‘i

Splashed across newspapers, televisions, the web and social media sites are headlines on candidates seeking the presidential nomination from their respective party. Many states have already indicated their preference either through a caucus or primary election. Now, the time has come for Hawai‘i Democrats to make our voice be heard.

On Saturday, March 26, registered Democratic Party members across the state will converge at over 50 locations to cast their vote for their preferred presidential nominee.

Our process is officially called the Presidential Preference Poll, but is also referred to as a “caucus”. Through a secret ballot, party members will indicate their preference for Hillary Clinton, Roque De La Fuente, Martin O’Malley, Bernie Sanders or an option to be uncommitted. Those who do not have active campaigns will still appear on the ballot, as they have not officially withdrawn in Hawai‘i.

Only registered members of the Democratic Party will be able to participate. Those who are not yet registered, unsure, or would like to update their party membership, may do so at www.hawaiidemocrats.org/join. Anyone wishing to join must register to vote in the State of Hawai‘i and not be affiliated with any other political party. Registration will also be held at each designated site on March 26.

Doors will open at noon, except in Hana, which opens at 12:30 p.m. Voting begins at 1 p.m.

The following locations have been designated throughout Maui County: District 8 (Wailuku), Puu Kukui Elementary School; District 9 (Central Maui), Maui Waena Intermediate School; District 10, Precinct 1 (Parts of North Kihei, Maalaea), Lokelani Intermediate School; District 10, Precinct 2 thru 5 (Lahaina), Princess Nahienaena Elementary School; District 11 (South Maui), Lokelani Intermediate School; District 12 (Upcountry), Kalama Intermediate School; District 13, Precinct 1 and 2 (Paia and Haiku), Haiku Community Center; District 13, Precinct 3 (Keanae and Hana), Hana School Cafeteria; District 13, Precinct 4 (Lanai), ILWU Local 142 Hall, Lanai; District 13, Precinct 5 thru 9 (Molokai), Kaunakakai Elementary School.

The party is expecting a large turnout, and will do our best to keep lines moving, but we ask for your patience. For first time attendees, please be sure you are registered to vote at elections.hawaii.gov and a member of the party, well before March 26 for an easier check-in process.

The party is aiming to release the results that evening through our state headquarters. Only candidates receiving at least 15 percent of the vote will be allocated delegates to the national convention. Hawai‘i has been allocated 34 delegates, 25 of which will be at stake on March 26 and 9 are super-delegates consisting of our governor, congressional delegation, and state party leaders. More information on the process can be found on our website at www.mauidemocrats.org.

Following the Presidential Preference Poll, there will also be important party elections for precinct officers and delegates to the state convention.

Precinct officers play an important role, as they have the responsibility to select three individuals that the governor must choose from if a mid-term vacancy occurs for their respective state representative or state senator. The most recent case here in Maui County was the recommendations of Lynn DeCoite in 2015 along with Gil Keith-Agaran and Justin Woodson as mid-term replacements in 2012 and 2013.
Precinct officers are critical to perpetuating the values of the Democratic Party. The fundamental success of the party has always been because of a fluid discourse with our membership and elected officials.

You may be reluctant to affiliate yourself with a political label. Political parties however, provide a continuity of choice and it helps communities to organize through ideologies instead of other factors that may be an eventual detriment to our society. Most importantly, parties ensure that a vibrant democracy is preserved.

It is critical to have our community participate in the democratic process. Ask yourself, if not you, then who? There are too many problems facing our community to sit on the sidelines.

As grassroots members, we are the ones who help set the course for our presidential nominee and maintain the essence of our Democratic Party. I encourage and invite you to get involved!

Troy Hashimoto

Troy Hashimoto is the Chair of Maui County Committee of the Democratic Party of Hawai‘i.

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