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Lots to be decided today

However you slice it, this Election Day stands to be one for the history books both nationally and locally.

Set against the backdrop of a global pandemic, the presidential race between Donald Trump and Joe Biden could shape the direction of our country for decades to come. The two offer such divergent views on health care, national policy, climate science, taxation and governing style their supporters can scarcely imagine the world surviving if they lose.

Down ballot, the leaderships of the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives are also in play.

In Maui County, we have a slate of hotly contested races and seven charter amendments, one of which could dramatically alter our island’s form of government. Will Maui County vote to adopt a county manager system with a hired professional picking a team to run the county — appointments currently made by the mayor with confirmation of the council?

We’ll have our answer soon on that, as well as for the local races and other amendments. Thanks to Hawaii’s new all-mail voting system, a large percentage of ballots have already been processed and are just waiting to be tabulated. If the August primary is a guide, tonight’s first printout will come far earlier than previous general elections and paint a much clearer picture.

The presidential race could be a different story.

Unlike past years when we in Hawaii worried the presidential victor would be declared before we even hit the polls to vote, pundits are predicting this one may take weeks to name the winner. President Trump has refused to endorse a peaceful transfer of power and unless he loses in a landslide, there is no reason to expect one. If it is close, a fight in the courts is likely, one that could well end up in the Supreme Court.

Punch drunk from absorbing so many body blows and haymakers in 2020, the last thing America needs is three more months of uncertainty and partisan bickering. The nation needs unity and healing, not a conflict that will tear it further apart.

These high stakes make it all the more important for our voices to be heard. If you have already voted, congratulations and thank you for helping to make democracy work.

If you haven’t, it is not too late to vote or even register to vote. Same-day voting centers are located at the Velma McWayne Santos Center in Wailuku, Mitchell Pauole Center in Kaunakakai and the Lanai District Council Office. It takes about five minutes to register. All that is required is a Hawaii state ID or Hawaii driver’s license. The centers will be open 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. today.

Ballots also may be dropped off in collection boxes around the county by 7 p.m. today.

When the dust settles from this historic election, whether your candidate or issue won or lost, let’s remember that we’re all in this together.

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