Voter Education Kicks Off with U.S. Senate Debate

Hawaii had the lowest voter turnout among all states in 2012 – with less than half (44.5 percent) of eligible voters casting ballots. Yet, older voters turn out to the polls at a much higher rate than any other age group, suggesting that Hawaii voters age 50-plus will play an important role in determining this year’s election results.

Beginning in July, AARP Hawaii will sponsor a televised debate and numerous in-person voter education events designed to help residents make informed decisions as they cast their votes.

The voter education season kicks off on Tuesday, July 15 on KHON2 (7 – 8 p.m.) with a live, televised debate featuring Senator Brian Schatz and Congresswoman Colleen Hanabusa, leading Democratic candidates for the U.S. Senate. Sen. Schatz was appointed to the United States Senate in December 2012, to fill the vacancy caused by the death of Sen. Daniel Inouye. Rep. Hanabusa has served as Representative of Hawaii’s 1st Congressional District since January 2011.

At a time when “entitlement reform” and Social Security have become bargaining chips in Washington, D.C., and as increasing numbers of boomer-generation residents feel unprepared for their own retirement, the debate is expected to include questions about the candidates’ positions on Medicare and Social Security. The debate format also calls for questions to be solicited from the general public and for candidates to have an opportunity to question each other directly.

Beginning July 18, AARP will also sponsor a series of federal and state issues forums. These sessions will include a briefing on the future of Social Security and updates on AARP’s priority state legislative issues related to caregiving and long-term care.

The existing schedule is as follows (Kauai event date to be decided):

  • Friday, July 18 (9:30 – 11:30 a.m.) Maui Beach Hotel
  • Monday, July 28 (9:30 – 11:30 a.m.) Hilo Hawaiian Hotel
  • Tuesday, July 29 (9:30 – 11:30 a.m.) King Kamehameha Kona Beach Hotel
  • Saturday, August 2 (9:30 – 11:30 a.m.) Ward Warehouse, Kakaako Conference Rooz

AARP does not endorse candidates, have a political action committee (PAC), or make contributions to political campaigns or candidates. For over 28 years, non-partisan voter education has been part of AARP’s mission to help Americans live their best lives. AARP informs its members and the general public about candidates’ position on issues so they can choose candidates that best represent their views and values.

Following the Primary Election on August 9, AARP Hawaii will make an on-line state and federal voter guide available to the public, enabling Hawaii voters to find out where the candidates stand on issues important to them.

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