East Honolulu Takes Its Voting Seriously

Sophie Cocke/ Civil Beat

Editor's Note: This is the third in a series of stories examining Hawaii's low voter participation rates. Read previous stories in the series as well as other initiatives Civil Beat is undertaking to understand why people don't vote.

If you wanted to design a community where voter turnout would be high, you would probably want to follow these tips from the U.S. Census Bureau.

• Likelihood of voting increases with age, so your model community would have more older residents.

• Likelihood of voting goes up with education, so the community should have above-average education, with more who have graduated from college or received post-graduate degrees.

• People with higher incomes are more likely to vote, so your community should have a high average income.

• Home ownership and length of residence make a big difference, so you would want to see more long-time residents living in their own homes.

The same advice comes from other experts, like Neal Milner, professor emeritus of political science at the University of Hawaii and a well-known political analyst.

“People who are more educated are more likely to vote,” Milner told Civil Beat. “People who have more money are more likely to vote than working class or blue collar people. And older people are more likely to vote than younger people.”

“People who have a sense of efficacy, of being able to effect the political process, are also more likely to vote,” Milner added. “All of this seems to be tied into socio-economic status.”

Milner pointed to another key factor — competitive elections — which tend to mobilize candidates, political parties and communities.

With these factors in mind, it should come as no surprise that three contiguous election districts on Oahu, stretching from Hawaii Kai to Diamond Head, had the highest voter turnout in the state during the 2010 elections.

Have feedback? Suggestions?