January 17, 2018 marked the opening day at the Legislature; it also marked the 125th anniversary of the overthrow of our Queen and her monarchy. Thousands of people gathered at both the State Capitol and Iolani Palace. Some attended to listen to speeches by sitting members of the legislature while others marched in honor of the Queen.
The Council for Native Hawaiian Advancement (CNHA) and its staff could be found in the Capitol rotunda representing its civic engagement initiative, Vote to Rise, registering people to vote while giving out signs and stickers that read: “I AM HAWAIIAN AND I VOTE” and “VOTING IS MY KULEANA.”
“Voting matters, especially in light of the reality of the 125th anniversary and all that it means,” said Jordyn Danner, CNHA Policy Manager. “We cannot be separated from our aina, or the well-being of Hawaii, ever – as the Native people of these lands, we have an even higher duty to register in state and federal elections, and to exercise that responsibility.”
One strategy of CNHA’s Vote to Rise initiative on the 17th of January, was to engage the many 16 and 17-year old students who were bussed in by their respective schools to participate in the day’s activities. Hawaii is 1 of 11 states where it allows 16 and 17-year olds to get ahead of the game and register before 18.