Election Day: Over the morning's second cup of coffee, take a look at election stuff published by The Maui News.
Run through the council candidates. Mostly same ol', same ol'. I like some of the incumbents but have the urge to vote 'em all out. Hard to do when there are no challengers in too many of the races. It seems the only time newcomers show up on the ballot is when the incumbent has reached term limits.
Read through the proposed amendments to the Maui County Charter. Most of the proposals made by the Charter Commission deserve a "yes," even though some seem superfluous. One proposal is sure to be voted down.
It would be great to extend council terms to four years. With two-year terms, the community only gets a few months of actual work. The individuals spend a year getting up to speed and then spending most of the second year working toward re-election by avoiding any real decisions. Don't want to offend anyone.
The one-year residency requirement was probably aimed at preventing a Sol Kaho'ohalahala controversy. Did he live on Lanai or not? At one point, the Charter Commission considered basing residency on where the candidate last voted. That's definite. Otherwise, residency can be tough to prove and easy to simulate.
Puzzle over the U.S. Senate candidates. Linda Lingle is sharp and twice the politician Mazie Hirono is. But . . . Electing Republican Lingle might swing the balance of power in the Senate. Being forced to pick on the basis of national politics rather than personal capability is a bummer.
Go pull on a good shirt, crisp jeans and polished boots. Doesn't seem right to show up looking sloppy. Voting is a community event not to be missed. Duty and pleasure demand it.
The parking lot at the Kula Community Center is jammed. Cars and pickup trucks are parked everywhere around the center and the gateball court. A car's backup lights indicated a voter going. Slip into the vacated stall.
Patriotically decked-out Helen McCord stands in the doorway, greeting and directing voters to the ballot tables. Old friends get hugs. She has many old friends. One of the two people at the ballot table is an acquaintance. We talk about motorcycles, able to take the time because there's never a line at the XYZ table.
A poll worker with the manner of a top sergeant keeps folks in a proper line while waiting for legs to disappear from below the booth curtains. Maybe a dozen folks wait, smile, chat and shuffle. The top kick hustles the line along by pointing out vacant booths.
The good-natured hubbub drops away once behind the curtain. The most time-consuming part of voting is filling in the boxes with a fine-line ballpoint pen. A marker-type pen - or smaller boxes - would speed up the process.
Cathy Bott is at her usual place next to the two ballot-eating recording machines. A quick hug. No time to chat. Can't hold up a line of voters with ballot in hand.
In and out in 10 or 15 minutes. Out in the parking lot, light a cigarette. Realize the parking spot is needed. There's a steady stream of cars flowing off Lower Kula Road. Better get moving.
Election night: Watch the tube while listening to county reports on the radio. It's one of the few times cable TV is missed. As usual, all the national contests are decided before Hawaii's polls are closed. One network even calls the Lingle-Hirono race before any results are in.
As usual, there's a delay in reporting state and county results because of a hang-up. This time, the state election office failed to send enough ballots to some of the Oahu polling places. Seems dumb. Why not count the number of registered voters and send the same number of ballots.
Morning after election: Make the trek to the end of the driveway to collect The Maui News. Coffee can wait. Cat's breakfast can wait. Flip to the vote totals. Save the rest for after coffee and cat. Read all of the election coverage. As expected, voters want the ability to dump council members every two years even though they never do.
Head out for some breakfast. Talk about the election. Best comment of the day: "The amount of money spent on the election is obscene. Congress ought to outlaw those no-face, special-interest outfits from trying to buy elections."
I'd vote for it.
* Ron Youngblood is a former staff writer for The Maui News. His email address is email@example.com.