Ka Wai Ola

Read this article in ʻōlelo Hawaiʻi

Photo: Kalani Akana

Aloha to our friends who love the land from the rising to the setting of the sun, from the fine sands of Hilo One to the shell-filled sands of Niʻihau. Greetings with love.

The important day for general voting is nearing. We will be voting for president, representatives and senators, members of the city council and trustees of the Office of Hawaiian Affairs. Citizens of Hawaiʻi are accustomed to voting by mail, however that is not so in some states. Voters there must stand in line to vote by machine or by hand. Some may be afraid because of the coronavirus pandemic and will not vote. That would be regretful, as voting is an important right and responsibility in a democracy for a nation like the U.S.A.

One thing we must be alert to is the suppression of voting through laws and policies. For example, at the time of the Bayonet Constitution of 1887, the natives were suppressed and newcomers raised up due to its allowance of those who could read English, Hawaiian or a European language (e.g., French, German) to vote. What of those who spoke Chinese and Japanese? They were disregarded even though they fulfilled these requirements: were males 20 years or older, lived in Hawaiʻi for at a year and had paid taxes.

That is also how the Hawaiian vote was suppressed during the time of the Provisional Government (PG). If they wanted to vote, they had to swear allegiance to the PG, the very ones who overthrew the legitimate Hawaiian government. That would be swearing allegiance to an enemy. Many natives could not do that. In addition, voters were required to read English only. Due to that requirement many Hawaiians were dropped from the voter registry. The deceit of the PG officials was made clear and the power of voting for the citizenry, the natives, suppressed.

Therefore, during this time of the pandemic, many will be voting by mail – approximately 80 million. We need to be vigilant to the effects of the pulling of incoming ballot counting by the postmaster general of the U.S. We need to be aware of the suppression of voting.