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Hawaiians look to make an impact in local elections

By Staff | Jun 23, 2016

The nonprofit Council for Native Hawaiian Advancement last week announced it has opened a five-year voter registration campaign to raise the impact of the Native Hawaiian community on local elections.

“The CNHA Vote to Rise campaign has the potential to engage tens of thousands of new voters from our communities in the ballot box on priorities important to our families,” said Michelle Kauhane, CNHA president. “Through the generous investments of local and national funders, we are all-in to register every new voter possible.”

Partners in this nonpartisan initiative include No Vote No Grumble, APIA Vote, Native Vote and Rock the Vote.

One Vote to Rise initiative is “16 for 2016,” registering 16-year-olds to vote two years from now.

“We are in this for the long haul,” said Jordyn Danner, CNHA Policy Center and Vote to Rise manager. “We aren’t looking to only engage in election years; we want to build a solid pipeline of lifelong voters right out of high school.”

Danner shared that voter registration is as easy as sending a text message: “Just text 788683 and type ’16 for 2016′ or ‘vote to rise’ in the comment line, and in two seconds, you get a link to register right from your phone.”

The CNHA campaign is also invested in technology and database systems to build one of the largest, most accurate voter databases on Native Hawaiians.

We hope greater registration, and then voting, will lead to more Hawaiians running for office.

Two recent citizen initiatives – the GMO ban and Community Farmland Council – have residents here fired up, and there are new faces among the 22 people running for County Council seats on Maui.

For information, or to support Vote to Rise’s goal to reach potential new voters, e-mail policy@hawaiiancouncil.org, call Danner at (808) 596-8155 or visit www.hawaiiancouncil.org.

“If this kind of community organizing is meaningful to you, come join us,” Kauhane commented. “Hawaiians will not be at the bottom of voter statistics for long. This initiative intends to change the current reality to reach for what we are fully capable of – an engaged and active voting population in our homelands! It’s exciting.”