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In an effort to cultivate civically engaged Native Hawaiian leaders, eight KS Kapālama seniors went on a huaka‘i to Honolulu Hale to become first-time voters. Student voters included Rory Keliikipi, Mahea Lewis, Sierra Furukawa, Mirai Mawae, Hokupaa Melim, Kaulana Kanno, Connor Kalahiki, and Karina Jacang.

KS Kapālama students become first-time voters

Nov. 5, 2018

Contributed by Thomas Yoshida

On Friday, Nov. 2, eight Kamehameha Schools Kapālama seniors went on a huaka‘i to Honolulu Hale to become first-time voters.

This student-led “Get Out the Vote” campaign coincides with the KS effort to cultivate Native Hawaiian leaders who are civically engaged.

“As an educational institution, our focus is to encourage and help our students pursue their passions whether it be academic, athletic or solving any issues they feel strongly about,” said Andrew Lai, KS student leadership and activities director. “It’s important that we give them every opportunity to vote.”

The drive for student voters ramped up in September when senior Connor Kalahiki led a group of students to increase awareness for the upcoming elections and encourage voter registration among their classmates.

“I actually turn 18 the day after elections, so I can’t vote with my classmates,” said Kalahiki, “However, I can still make an impact on this year’s elections by encouraging others to carry out that civic duty.”

Historically, Hawai‘i ranks among the lowest in the nation for voter turnout. According to, the likelihood of 18- to 24-year-olds voting has significantly declined since 1972.

“Some students don’t vote because they can’t afford to miss class or extracurricular activities. They also lack transportation getting to polling sites. In general, schools don’t place enough attention on politics during election years,” added Kalahiki.

In addition to this voting huaka‘i, KS has put an emphasis on giving students the opportunity to learn about the candidates and the issues facing their generation with activities like the Super Debate held on the Kapālama campus in early July 2018.

“From my experience with past elections, I don’t recall any instance where a school has encouraged and helped students cast their ballots during the school day,” said Rex Quidilla, elections administrator for the City and County of Honolulu. “I hope this example encourages other eligible students to vote, especially with the option to register and vote on the same day.”

Election Day is tomorrow, Nov. 6. For more information about the election and polling places, visit

Sam Kippen, KS Community and Government Relations specialist, briefed the students prior to voting.

Many of the students took advantage of the option to register and vote on the same day during the early voting period.

The student voters took their excitement to the streets to encourage motorists to vote.

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