This Saturday on the Big Island, the Green Party of Hawai'i (GPH) will be holding its annual state convention at Hawaiian Acres Community Center, beginning at 2 p.m. State party officers, two delegates and two alternates to the Green Party of the United States (GPUS) National Committee plus delegates to the annual National Convention, being held this year in Iowa City, Iowa, in July, will be elected.
The GPH was once again successful in our petition drive to secure a ballot line for state and national partisan races in 2012, thus obtaining ballot access in Hawaii for the next 10 years, through the elections in 2022.
The GPH stands on four pillars of grass-roots democracy, nonviolence, social justice and ecological wisdom.
When voting, people deserve to have as many choices as possible. Hawaii is one of only five states in the United States which does not allow "write-in" voting. In many situations, voters are limited to only two individuals, often with insignificant difference between them.
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 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. Sadly, many decisions made by elected officials 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 a 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. Whether the GPH or another political party has a candidate, if they do, all candidates need to be given equal coverage by and access to the media. This will allow voters an opportunity to make a clear and substantive choice.
All debates and forums must include every candidate for an office, not just the "frontrunners" or members of the "major" political parties. Citizens need to be informed about all of the various positions and choices available to them, not only just those presented from 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 does appear 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 who 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 for the lesser of two limited choices, or voting 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.
Term limits for Hawaii legislators and reducing the threshold for successfully having an initiative placed on the ballot, both for state and county elections, are additional changes needed in Hawaii.
The GPH first appeared on the ballot in Hawaii in 1992, and has maintained ballot access for every election since. In Hawaii County, 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, city and county council candidates, members of boards of supervisors, four state legislators and in numerous other partisan and nonpartisan contests, members of the Green Party have been elected. In a few communities, Greens actually have a majority on their local governing body.
* Nikhilananda is co-chair of the Green Party of Hawai'i. He lives in Huelo.