How mom votes – On plunking, block voting, slates and other such Kauai County Council voting strategies

The absentee ballots have been mailed, walk in voting starts on October 21 and emails and blog postings are already promoting strategies and suggestions on how to get your favorite Kauai County Council candidates elected.

I am compelled to explain the importance of block voting, plunking and in general resisting the urge to go “eeny, meeny, miney, moe” and expending on November 4 all seven Kauai County Council votes – some votes on candidates you really want to see in office and other votes on candidates that are “ok” or whom you are not really sure.

The fundamental rule of akamai Kauai voting is: Do not use all 7 votes when choosing your Kauai County Council candidates. Unless of course you feel equally supportive of all 7 candidates you choose or perhaps have your own strategy you believe in.

The ballot will say “vote for up to 7” or similar language. Experienced Kauai voters will use their Council votes sparingly, selecting only those candidates whom they really and truly and positively want to get elected. These voters might cast one vote or perhaps up to 4 or 5 votes but rarely do they go beyond this number.

An example of how casting all 7 votes can work to the detriment of the candidate or candidates you are most interested in getting elected:

There are 14 candidates running for the 7 Council seats. The council candidates’ mother goes to vote.

She votes for her child (naturally) and then pauses and decides to vote for one other candidate who has been especially nice to good ol’ mom during the campaign.  Mom’s favorite candidate (her child) then loses the election by one vote to that other candidate and very nice person mom decided to vote for also.

Bottom line is that in most Kauai Council elections – mom’s, grandma’s, wives, husbands, sisters, brothers and children of the candidate will often only cast one vote in the Kauai County Council race.

This is called “plunking”. Others have their definition for plunking but this is how I have come to know the term.

While I appreciate those who choose to plunk for Hooser and especially appreciate good ole mom for not casting the one vote that could beat me, in general and in particular for this election I am encouraging my friends to block vote rather than plunk.

After all in order to accomplish anything on the Council 4 votes are needed, and preferably there are at least 5. And plunk or not, it can get mighty lonely on the Council if you make it and none of your friends do.

Block voting is an expanded variation of the one vote all powerful plunk. Block voting is usually a 3 or 5 vote maximum but the same principal applies. The voter selects only those candidates whom they truly want to get elected, whom they believe truly represent their core values – and they vote for those candidates only and resist giving their remaining votes to candidates whom might as a result beat their favorites.

This year there has been much talk about “slates”, or a group of candidates who run as a team.

Personally I have never been a fan of this strategy. I believe every candidate must run and win on their individual merits. Yes I have friends whom I hope will win, but each of us must run and win on our own.

A slate is different than supporting an “endorsed list” which is a strategy that many organizations and individuals ascribe to. If an organization or group of individuals want to endorse my candidacy I welcome the support, help and recognition.

The primary and crucial difference between a slate and an endorsed list is that in a “slate strategy” the council candidates themselves lock arms in their support of each other and in opposition to the non-slate candidates.

In the example of the “endorsed list” it is the organization/group that offers the support and the candidates do not necessarily support or even like each other.

An important caveat to slates is that it is against the law for any candidate to spend funds in support of another candidate. So candidate A may not spend his/her campaign funds or incur expenses in support of candidate B, C or D. In addition the expenses incurred in support of any joint events in support of the slate must be disclosed to the campaign spending commission.

This is where things will often get sticky for those candidates who run as a slate.

Each candidate must disclose their equal portion of the expenses of the event and there must be documentation to back up those expenses. Either the candidate must disclose their portion as an expense (paid from their campaign account) or as an “in-kind donation” from an individual (disclosed as a contribution on the campaign spending report). There truly is no free lunch.

This reporting must include the cost of the venue, refreshments and other related costs as nothing is free – it is either an expense paid proportionately by the candidate or a proportional contribution (in kind or otherwise). This can get complicated and become problematic when prying eyes start examining each of the slates campaign spending reports to determine if each candidate in the slate reported the correct amounts and proportion.

A fundamental rule of service in elective office: No matter how smart you are, no matter how hard you work, no matter how good you are in your heart – you cannot serve unless you get elected.

Please vote, please research all of the candidates and vote only for those you truly believe will represent your core values and yes, please cast one of your 7 county council votes for me, Gary Hooser.

Thank you, gh

Note: A version of this blog posting was published here in October 2012

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About garyhooser

This blog represents my thoughts as an individual person. I presently serve now as a volunteer President of the Hawaii Alliance for Progressive Action (H.A.P.A.) www.hapahi.org In a past life I was an elected member of the Kauai County Council, a Hawaii State Senator and Majority Leader and the Director of Environmental Quality Control for the State of Hawaii - in an even earlier incarnation I was an entrepreneur and small business owner. Yes, I am one of the luckiest guys on the planet. “Come to the edge.” “We can’t. We’re afraid.” “Come to the edge.” “We can’t. We will fall!” “Come to the edge.” And they came. And he pushed them. And they flew. - Christopher Logue (b.1926)
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5 Responses to How mom votes – On plunking, block voting, slates and other such Kauai County Council voting strategies

  1. sharon says:

    Learned a number of new terms like plunking and block voting and say thank you for the info! I was going to vote for 5 ….but perhaps this needs to be only 3…hmmmm

  2. Dan says:

    Thank you so much, i am glad i unterstand this better now, no just sympathy votes, i will vote only for the ones i truly believe in. I downloaded the ballot and I,feel like when it comes to amendments little lost, are there resources, webpage that explains them in layman words what they intentions functions, impacts are, so I can choose better, I did read most of the original texts but still feel lots of question-marks.

    • garyhooser says:

      Thanks for the note Dan. Yes, the Charter and Constitutional amendment questions are somewhat confusing. If I find a good source of general info, I will let you know. Good luck!

  3. Pingback: Timely Message from Gary Hooser

  4. Larry says:

    Gary,

    This letter is a long time in coming. I am a voting systems innovator – I would say expert – that has spent about 5 years in conceiving and optimizing an expressive system for the ballot box. I am in the process of constructing a website and will be beginning a nonprofit organization that will be dedicated to advancing the notion/creation to a fertile/needful locality (Kaua’i?) and reverberating outwards in eventually encompassing the world at large – that is the dream. Democracy is taken for granted. It is time to invigorate it by giving people the means by which they can freely express preferential/relative desire for ballot options.

    I have been following the present (now, past, as having died once again) and researching past attempts/bills by Hawaii’s legislature in its continuously failed efforts at voting system reform in the form of approving RCV (Rank Choice Voting, aka Instant Runoff Voting or Alternative Voting) – must be said, scope usually (wisely IMO) limited to special elections and as enabling act for counties to adopt the method if so wish. In this interest, in reforming the voting systems in Hawai’i, I have been in touch with Corie Tanida of Common Cause Hawai’i and Hawaii’s Office of Elections (contact there is Ray de Vega) where encouraging (but, significant to realization, no practical) support has been given/expressed

    I am not a fan of RCV (for reasons I will not go into right now), but even less am I an advocate of pluralistic voting or its multi-assertive twin approval voting (the latter which presently operates in circumscribed version in Kauai’s county elections with the attendant ills which you have so laudably accurately identified.) The system I advance is a consumer-oriented system that allows voters to assert themselves most simply (reflecting pluralistic voting) while simultaneously enabling varied complex expressive capacity. In effect, it is a numerically/symbolically constructed integral language that is both supremely user friendly to voters and process friendly to administrators. And, to the purpose of this letter, I think it would be tailor-made in application to Kauai’s county elections: not only a rectification of the ills of the present system, but enormously empowering Kaua’i voters: transforming their right to vote to freedom of expression.

    Gary, I hope I have peaked your interest. The details of the system can be emailed to you for your feedback, discussion. I wish to lead a grassroots campaign on Kauai to get the county election system there changed. My plan would be to recruit members to my as-yet registered organization in conducting outreach on Kaua’i. It would not come cheap. I have very little personal financial means. I can’t just relocate to Kaua’i and begin to canvass. It is very expensive to reside/live on the Island while I proceed to gain the necessary funding (membership) to sustain the organization (and that, of course, crucially includes myself). Gary, can you help? Any assistance or suggestions? I look forward to hearing from you in response and hopefully in ongoing further correspondence. To quickly conclude, I just wanted to express my respect for the efforts you have made and accomplishments you have realized on behalf of Kauai’s residents. Your dedication to your community is commendable.

    Sincere and kind regards,

    Lawrence S. Waite
    (Larry)

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