My Turn: Your vote is your voice in government

On Aug. 8, the primary election in Hawaii County will be deciding on the mayor, prosecuting attorney and several County Council seats. Voters who do not vote in the primary election will have no say in who will hold these offices. Do you need any other reason to understand why your vote in the primary election is very important?

During an election year in Hawaii, there are two scheduled elections, a primary election in August and a general election in November. While these elections have different purposes, they are equally important. In a primary election, partisan candidates are nominated separately by each party and will face candidates from the other parties in the general election. However, nonpartisan candidates can be elected to office in the primary without a runoff.

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One reason for a primary election is for partisan candidates running for offices such as Senate and House of Representatives, to compete for a party nomination. Democratic voters select Democratic candidates, Republican voters select Republican candidates, etc. The winner of these primary election contests run-off against each other in the general election. The primary contests can be very close and your vote will make a difference in who wins the nomination. Four years ago, the Democratic nomination in House District 33 was decided by only 37 votes. Just a few more for the other candidate in each precinct could have made a difference in the nomination. Your one vote is very important.

The primary election ballot also has offices that are called “Special Non-Partisan” offices. These offices include mayor, prosecuting attorney and members of the County Council. The two candidates with the highest number of votes will run-off in the general with one important difference. If a candidate for a nonpartisan office receives 50% or more of the vote in the primary election, that person is elected to office and there is no run-off. If you fail to vote in the primary election, you may not have any voice in selecting important county offices.

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Your vote is your voice in government. Take steps to ensure that you are heard. Learn about the candidates in the election by going to the League of Women Voter’s www.VOTE411.org website where you will find each candidate’s position on the issues. And finally vote in the primary and general elections.

Rosemarie Muller is president of the League of Women Voters, Hawaii County, and a resident of Hilo.