Tell these nonvoters why you vote »



Nani Teruya knocks on doors for candidates -- but she won't vote.


Skyler Gayhart, soon-to-be 18, doesn't feel mature enough to cast a ballot.


And Michael Remen found such a mess at his polling place on primary Election Day that he doesn't plan to vote n November. It just isn't worth the hassle, he says. This, despite the fact that he loves politics and has a firm opinion on just about every candidate and issue on the ticket.


These are three nonvoters I met on a trip to Hawaii last month as part of a new CNN project I'm heading up called Change the List. I went to Hawaii not for the scenery or surf, but because the state has the lowest voter turnout rate in the country. My goal is to help create a conversation that could change that -- not by shaming Hawaii, but by rooting for it as an underdog.


It's a cliche but it's true: Change can start with a person. That's why I'm asking iReporters to help convince one nonvoter in Hawaii to vote in the upcoming election. The three people I described at the top of this post -- Nani, Skyler and Michael -- as well as a few others, have agreed to let the People of the Internet (that's you!) send them messages trying to convince them to vote.


If you're interested, here's what you need to do. Three easy steps:


Step 1: Pick a person. Here are your choices.


#CTL1: Paul Hewlett: The it's-all-good guy.


I met Paul on a beach in Oahu just as he was finishing a night of canoeing. Things are generally pretty good in Hawaii, he said, so he's never felt the need to vote. "I've never voted in my life," he said. "I don't think my one vote is going to make any difference."


#CTL2: Michael Remen: The disenfranchised voter.


Michael loves voting. Along with football, it's his favorite "water cooler" topic. He knows the candidates and the issues. He always voted. Until this year. He had such trouble at his polling place earlier this year -- he spent an hour and a half trying to vote and left frustrated -- that he lost trust in the system. He told me he doesn't plan to cast a ballot in November.


#CTL3: Nani Teruya: The Hawaii separatist.


If you like a challenge, pick Nani. She basically told me she dares someone -- anyone -- to try to convince her to vote. Nani doesn't vote because she doesn't consider Hawaii to be part of the United States. Still, I talked to members of the Hawaiian family who said people like Nani should use their unique voices to sway politicians. Plus, Nani is already engaged in politics. She helped a friend of hers campaign for office, standing on street corners holding signs.


#CTL4: Skyler Gayhart: The high school student.


Soon-to-be 18, Skyler told me he feels to young to vote. Elections and politics are thigns that affect older people -- property owners -- not him, he said. Still, there are issues he holds dear, particularly overcrowding on Oahu. "If you go to Sandy Beach and catch a wave," he said during a discussion about voting in his high school class, "there’s 10 other people on that same wave!"


#CTL5: Nanci Munroe: The one who says it doesn't matter.


Nanci Munroe has several reasons not to vote. Most unique: Hawaii is six hours behind the East Coast. National results are announced before she goes to the polls.


#CTL6: Tyler Tawara: The university student.


"I don't vote because I don't believe what the politicians are saying," said Tyler Tawara, an 18-year-old University of Hawaii student. "I'm indifferent. They're just lying."


Step 2: Send that person a message


You can do that by sending a video on CNN iReport. Or by sending a message on Twitter. Please be sure to include the hashtag for the person you've chosen. If you're talking to Tyler, for example, tag your iReport or Tweet #CTL6. For Skyler, it's #CTL4. Get it? Kinda like "American Idol."


Here's a video I sent to #CTL2.


I would encourage you to make it personal. Why do you vote. A thoughtful explanation may be the best form of persuasion. Or what about that person speaks to you? Do you relate to them?


Step 3: See if your message makes the cut


I created a CNN page for each nonvoter. Check back on these pages to see if your message makes the cut. If it does, it means the nonvoter you chose will see your message. Here they are:


#CTL1 | #CTL2 | #CTL3 | #CTL4 | #CTL5 | #CTL6


Step 4: Find out if you made a difference


Follow the CNN Change the List Tumblr for updates on the project. I'll report back on which -- if any -- of the six nonvoters decides to cast a ballot in November. Thanks so much for your help.

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// October 23, 2012
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Posted in: voter, stories, stories

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