Saturday | April 18, 2015
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Officials: County vote goes smoothly

Pride was evident Tuesday. It could be heard and seen in many voters around Kona, as well as in those helping to ensure the success of the General Election.

All the island’s precincts opened on time at 7 a.m., and voting was running smoothly, said Lori Tomczyk, who was assigned to oversee Hawaii County elections on behalf on the state.

Residents exiting polls around lunchtime reported the voting process took roughly five to 10 minutes, which Tomczyk deemed normal because it takes time for people to read the six proposed Hawaii County Charter amendments and two proposed state constitutional amendments.

County Clerk Jamae Kawauchi was pleased with the cooperative efforts between the state and county. She was particularly proud of Lehua Iopa, the county’s election program administrator, and all the election workers who assisted the public during the election, who made sure every vote was counted and helped create a community of people who feel involved in the process of government. They were also committed to the objective: making sure Hawaii County has a fair, accurate and well-run election, she said.

While state and county election officials had no predictions for turnout, Kawauchi did mention the county’s voter awareness campaigns and numerous voter registration drives, intended to get more people to vote.

The county’s earlier prediction that more voters would vote by mail this election proved true. As of Tuesday afternoon, 31,088 of the island’s 104,323 registered voters had already voted early or absentee. This surpassed the 27,700 early voters in 2008, when the last presidential election was held, Kawauchi said.

About XXX registered voters, or XX percent, on the Big Island cast a ballot on Election Day.

For Kailua-Kona resident Eddie Herd, 51, voting is one of Americans’ “blessed rights in our democracy” and “an opportunity to make a difference.” Besides their values and approaches to various platforms, Herd said he supported candidates who showed the most consistency in their message throughout campaigning because he has a better idea of what he’s going to get. Whomever wins, Herd hopes our elected officials work together more than they have in the past eight years.

Kailua-Kona resident Nancy Kamaka, 44, cast her ballot Tuesday because it allows her to be heard, as well as engage in the conversation about issues, values and priorities. With the presidential race, she hoped changes for the better will come. She said her biggest issue was education.

Kamaka is concerned about schools eliminating or cutting back on spending for physical education, the arts and music. She thinks these subjects are integral to our understanding of the world, allow for expression and creativity, and are just as important as reading, writing, science and arithmetic. She said it was important that children have a well-rounded education, and that an investment in education is an investment in our future.

Education was also a key issue for 34-year-old Benjamin Farish of Kailua-Kona. He said more money should be spent, not taken away, to ensure schools have proper staffing, facilities and access to technology. Farish thinks there should be improvements in the opportunities keiki have to learn, develop and flourish. He said the ripple effect education has on children and their community is undeniable.

Farish felt that all the races were important. Though it can be difficult to separate truth from lies, Farish chose leaders based on their ambition, vision and whether he felt they could do the job they outlined.

“As Americans, voting is a right we have and should exercise no matter what,” he said.

Kailua-Kona resident Randy Cavanaugh, 60, was most interested in the presidential and mayoral races. When it comes to the latter, Cavanaugh selected the current mayor, Billy Kenoi, because of his good work over the past four years. He also admires his community involvement.

Cavanaugh thinks selecting the nation’s leader is important because the presidential candidates represent two very different views and visions. Health care was a main issue for Cavanaugh, who doesn’t like the Affordable Care Act, informally known as Obamacare. The 2010 law requires Americans to have health insurance and revamps the U.S. medical system. Cavanaugh thinks it will cost taxpayers too much. If Romney is elected, he looks forward to him revising the law.

“Voting is an opportunity to express your opinion on a piece of paper,” he said. “It’s important to think about the issues on both sides and make quality decisions. Also we have the right to vote and some places in the world don’t.”