According to the Associated Press, Donald Trump won the Hawaii Republican Caucus yesterday on Tuesday, March 8. Local Republicans lined up at Laie Elementary school at 6 p.m. to vote. Many BYU-Hawaii students were among the voters, including Terri-Lee Bixby, a senior from New York majoring in history, who said, “Politics has already been bad, but it is getting even worse and if I can try to change that, I want to.”
BYUH students also volunteered in helping run the local caucus. Parker Jackson, a junior from Wyoming studying pre-law, volunteered and said Ted Cruz won in Laie. He posted on Facebook that Cruz won with 140 votes, Rubio came second with 112, then Trump with 89, and Kasich with 46. He estimated 408 people voted and 78 had registered to vote in this caucus at the precinct.
Jackson was disappointed in the student turnout, noting it was “very low. I probably only saw a dozen to 20 students. I didn’t see very many. We have 2,800 students half of which from US, you have 1,000 eligible voters on campus who didn’t vote and that 1,000 votes could have closed the gap.” According to AP, Trump won the Hawaii GOP caucus with 5,677 votes while Ted Cruz won second with 4,379 votes.
Jackson attributed the low turnout to three reasons. He said, “One was the rain. It was very poor weather and it rained almost the whole two hours. Second: four years ago, some locals took a megaphone and drove around Laie screaming for everyone to vote for Romney, which helped voter turnout 4 years ago. You’ll also note there are no signs and no shirts around Laie. A possible third reason was there was some confusion as to where the polling places were. We had about a dozen people show up from a different precinct. Also, in the general election, people normally vote in Kahuku, not Laie. However, that still doesn't justify how low the turnout was.”
Bixby acknowledged how people may feel their one vote doesn’t count. “I know that one vote seems miniscule in the massive amount of voters, but they always say every vote counts and I want mine to count.”
Samantha Swanson, a sophomore from Michigan studying biomedical, was excited about the privilege to vote. She said, “This is my first presidential campaign that I’m going to be able to vote in so it’s already exciting for me.” Swanson said it is important to have voice and to use our “individual power.”
President Tanner and his wife also showed up to vote. President Tanner encouraged the students to be participants in the election. “Just think of what privilege it is to vote. What a blessing it is. Most people in the world have not had this opportunity and so many do not take advantage of it. I encourage students to learn now and early to get involved and be participatory in democracy,” he said.