Molokai Votes Obama
Record turnout at Molokai Democratic Caucus.
By Brandon Roberts
This year’s Democratic candidates inspired Molokai to get its vote on in a big way. Polling places island-wide were bursting at the seams with democratic enthusiasm.
Molokai voters came out in record numbers to share their strong mana`o with the rest of the nation.
“I vote, I have a voice,” said Obama supporter Harriet Fukuoka. Obama “looks like a man of honesty.”
Democratic hopeful, Barack Obama rode a political tsunami, catching 549 of 638 Molokai votes (86 percent). U.S. Senator Hillary Clinton came in with 85 votes (13 percent). Four years ago, less than 50 people voted in the caucus.
District 13 had the highest voter participation in the state. It includes East Maui, Molokai, Lanai, Hana and Keanai, Obama swept all 51 districts in Hawaii and helped to bring out a record 37,426 voters.
Precinct 11 (Ho`olehua, Kalae, Kualapu`u) delivered one of the highest percentages of support for Obama in the state. Obama received almost 92 percent of all votes.
Though the Mainland had its own Super Tuesday earlier in February, Molokai made sure that Feb. 19 was Super Tuesday Hawaiian style.
Many reasons exist for the record turnout; unique candidates, and paramount issues such as health insurance, the war on terror, and education. Top it off with a too-close-to-call campaign between Clinton and Obama that put Hawaii in the Democratic spotlight, and now there is a recipe for records
“This is history,” Molokai Democratic caucus organizer Beverly Pauole-Moore said. “Seeing this turnout, I have to pinch myself.”
Following the national trend of record voter turnout this election season, Pauole-Moore was prepared for the best. As voters arrived, there were plenty of volunteers and resources available for assistance.
“It is a Molokai stampede,” one Caucus volunteer said,
Volunteer Gladys Brown enjoyed the “good enthusiasm” as she admired the growing crowd from her voter registration desk. “Molokai is looking for a change,” she said.
“This is the most important vote of our lifetime,” said Danny Mateo, Vice-Chair of the Maui County Council. “Our actions are the beginning of a new change.” Mateo spoke to the eager audience waiting to drop their votes into the ballot boxes.
Within the crowd was first-time voter Sarah Nartatez, 21, who made it an ohana event by carrying her infant son Enzo Kansansa. Nartatez embodies youthful inspiration alive in the new generation of voters. She cast her vote for a “strong leader with the reassurance of a better future.”
Ben “Benny Boy” Ragonton’s ballot was the last to be cast. Ragonton, another first-timer, voted because of policy issues. “Stopping the war is the most important thing,” he said.
A total of 10 delegates from Molokai will attend the Democratic State Convention May 23-25 at the Hilton Hawaiian Village in Honolulu. At the state convention, the precinct delegates nominate the 29 state delegates that will go on to vote at the Democratic National Convention in August.
The Democratic Party of Hawaii estimated that Obama would get 14 of the state's 20 delegates, leaving Clinton with six. The remaining nine are superdelegates, who remain unpledged until the national convention.
The Democratic nominee needs 2,025 delegate votes to get the party nomination. Currently Obama has 1,192 pledged delegates, and Clinton trails with 1,036.
Mahalo nui to all the volunteers who make it possible for Molokai to exercise its freedom to vote and to Pauole-Moore for her organization on a smooth Hawaiian Super Tuesday.