My mail-in ballot has sat on my desk, unopened, since it arrived a few weeks ago. Even though mail-in ballots have made voting easier and more accessible than ever, turnout for this year’s primary election has so far been lower than in years past. Clearly I’m not alone.
Election seasons are exhausting, if not downright dispiriting. My fellow columnist Denby Fawcett recently pinpointed how the coronavirus pandemic and technology have made political campaigns less personal, and thus duller.
Meeting with a few hundred voters face-to-face risks Covid exposure, and can devour entire days. But a single Instagram post only requires a few minutes of effort – likely from a young campaign volunteer – and it can reach tens of thousands of people, without the candidate having to share the same breath with any of them. In olelo Hawaii, by the way, sharing one’s breath is called “aloha.”
All of that is true and worth noting, but I think there’s a deeper reason behind the sluggish turnout. People are tired of being told this election is the most important one … until the next most important one. We’re disillusioned by the mailbox-to-trashcan pipeline of campaign flyers from candidates who seem less concerned with proposing solutions or clarifying ideas and more interested in creating an image and solidifying power…