Vote or be fined. It’s an idea moving through the legislature this year that’s got so many people fired up. “Hawaii should be embarrassed by itself. We’ve got the lowest voter turnout in the nation,” said Republican Re. Gene Ward, who represents Hawaii Kai. That’s why Ward says he’s introduced a bill requiring Hawaii residents to vote or be charged a $100 fine. That triggered thousands of hits and hundreds of comments on KITV4’s Facebook Page. The debate keeps on raging. “I think it’s one of the worst ideas I’ve ever heard. You have a bunch of people who don’t have a clue about what they’re voting about and they have no business voting,” said Waialua resident Chuck Vowell. “I would agree — some fine on their taxes, or on their driver’s license. And a small fee or penalty to encourage them to vote, because we should. It’s your civic duty,” said real estate agent David Bautista.
“I think we’ve got to open the dialogue. Look at Australia,” said Rep. Ward.
Since the early 1900s, Australia has required its citizens to vote. Today, the country enjoys a turnout of about 94 percent.
“I’m concerned because people who vote tend to research the candidates more,” said Joli Tokusato of Nuuanu. “I would rather have informed voters rather than have them pick it out of a hat.”
Hard numbers show, making voting easier works — such as same day registration or mail-in voting and online options — but only in small increments.