Saturday on the Big Island the Green Party of Hawai'i will be hold its annual State Convention at Hawaiian Acres Community Center beginning at 1 p.m. State party officers, four delegates and four alternates to the
Green Party of the United States national convention, being held this year in Baltimore in July, along with two members to represent Hawaii on the National Committee will be elected.
Once again, the GPH was successful in our petition drive to secure a ballot line for state and national partisan races for the elections this year, thus obtaining ballot access for the next 10 years.
When voting, people deserve to have as many choices as possible. Hawaii is one of only five states which does not allow write-in voting. Thus, in many situations the voter is limited to only two individuals, with insignificant difference between the two.
Fundamental modifications are needed to the method by which we hold elections. Otherwise there will be little chance for significant change in who ultimately wins election in our current electoral system. Campaign finance reform and clean elections are the beginning of any discussion. Limit the influence as much as possible which money has in politics. As a result, most decisions made by an elected official will continue to be tied to the money they have raised for their campaigns.
Open up media to all candidates. With access to traditional media almost exclusively the purview of members of the two major corporate-controlled political parties, the alternative ideas expressed by other candidates do not get an balanced discussion by the electorate. Even with the growth of social and new media, the opportunity to equally reach a majority of voters is limited.
All debates and forums must include every candidate for an office, not just the front-runners or members of the major political parties. Citizens need to be informed about all of the various positions and choices available to them, not just those presented from only the two entrenched parties.
Besides write-in voting, another progressive change would be to have ranked or instant run-off voting, especially in local nonpartisan races, allowing voters to rank their preferences when there are more than just two people on the ballot, especially in primary races. This would avoid having to feel that one's vote would not count when voting for a third or alternative party candidate, or for a candidate whom a voter truly supports but feels may not be strong enough to win. This method allows voters to always make a positive vote for a candidate rather than the lesser of two limited choices or against a certain candidate. This progressive change could then eliminate the primary, saving a significant amount of money and holding only a general election in November.
The GPH first appeared on the ballot in Hawaii in 1992 and has maintained ballot status for every election since. On the Big Island, where the County Council is elected by a district voting system, three members of the GPH have been elected seven times since 1992. On the Mainland, mayors, council members and three state legislators have been elected when running in partisan races as members of the Green Party. In a couple of communities, Greens actually have a majority on local governing bodies.
This year in Hawaii we will be selecting a new United States senator. In the 2nd Congressional District, we will also be choosing a new representative to Congress. Whether or not the GPH or another political party has a candidate, all candidates need to be given equal coverage in the media. This will allow voters an opportunity to make a clear and substantive choice.
* Nikhilananda is the co-chairman of the Green Party of Hawai'i. He lives in Huelo.