In-person voting and drop boxes will remain open on Election Day as voters continue to submit ballots for the general election. (Photo by Cameron Enomoto)

By Cameron Enomoto | Staff Writer

Before Election Day in November, citizens across the nation hear the same thing, “Voting is your civic duty.” Voting is a way for citizens to participate in the democratic process of the United States of America. People vote for candidates that they believe represent them and their ideals. Every year there are news stations, blogs, and TV advertisements encouraging people to go out and vote, but the turnout of people across the nation is less than 70% of citizens.

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the 2020 presidential election had the highest voter turnout of the 21st century, with 66.8% of citizens 18 years and older voting in the election. Approximately 17.6% of registered non-voters reported skipping voting because they were uninterested in the election. Other reasons people chose to leave their ballots blank included the candidate choices, being too busy, or forgetting to vote.

“I don’t understand how people can just skip out on this kind of thing,” said 20-year-old KCC student Jana Miyahara. “This is literally our future. You can’t ignore it and not care about it because whoever wins has the authority to make executive decisions that will impact people like us.”

Miyahara is a second-year student at KCC majoring in Liberal Arts and has voted since she turned 18 in May 2020.

“I feel like there are a lot of people out there who think that their vote doesn’t matter because they’re just one person,” Miyahara said. “That’s so far from the truth because if enough people actually go out and vote, we will see a difference. I was trying to explain this to my friends so that they would register too but they think that voting is a waste of time since they already know who is most likely to win. I was like, ‘How can you even say that!’ especially now more than ever because Roe v. Wade was overturned and there’s so much hate in the world. Young students like us have the responsibility to change the future.”

The New York Times was able to obtain youth voter turnout percentages from 24 nations. The United States was fifth from last with only 46% of registered voters ages 18-29 voting. The countries with the most youth voters included Sweden, Denmark, and the Netherlands.

“It’s honestly embarrassing when I hear people on the bus or in public talk about not voting,” said Jamal Carter, a 25-year-old student at KCC. “Like, why do people glorify that kind of stuff? The guys [politicians] who are in the government now don’t do anything for us.”

Carter is a third-year student from San Antonio, Texas majoring in Business Administration. He did not register to vote until he was 21 because he believed it was uncool to be involved with politics as none of his friends voted either.

“I’m angry now man because I was stupid and didn’t vote when I was younger,” Carter said. “Sometimes I wonder if my vote would’ve changed things in my town. On the mainland, black people like me get shot all the time and no one cares. Then you got all the school shootings too. I have a cousin who lives near Uvalde [Texas] and now she’s scared to go to school because the police and whoever else didn’t do nothing about it. I would tell people who didn’t vote yet to go and do it because you never know what could happen.”

The State of Hawaiʻi Office of Elections has an interactive map of statewide locations for Voter Service Centers and Ballot Drop Boxes for the 2022 General Election. Additionally, voter service centers will be open for in-person voting and registration on Election Day.