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Why voting matters to me

Why voting matters to me

At a company level, one of our OKRs this quarter is accomplish 100% eligible voter turnout for the general election on November 8th.

During the 2020 election, we achieved 100% voter turnout at Paubox by following these steps:


  • Add Election day to holiday calendar. To demonstrate that it matters, we added Election day as a company holiday.
  • Frequent consistent messaging. Via staff meetings, Slack, and email, the consistent messaging here was, “I don’t care who you vote for. I care that you vote.”
  • Send simple surveys. Prior to Election day, we surveyed staff via two questions: “Are you registered to vote?” and “How are you going to vote? (By mail / In person / I’m not going to vote)”
  • Assemble a skeleton crew. Since Election day is not a federal holiday (yet), we still needed some staff to work that day. We let the skeleton crew take a day off at their choosing at a later date.
  • Post election survey. Using the honor system, we surveyed staff if they voted or not.

As November 8th approaches, we are again following our 2020 playbook.

Over the past week, I’ve been thinking more about why voter turnout at Paubox is so important.

The goal of this post is to explain why voting matters to me. I wrote this in our San Francisco office.


“What high school you went?”

2006 Primary election night – (left to right): Senator Inouye, Senator Akaka, myself, & Aunty Millie Akaka

Growing up in Hawaii, it was common knowledge our state has atrocious voter turnout rates. It’s easy to find examples here, here, here, here, and here. You get the picture.

I also grew up the son of activist parents who met at a Save Our Surf rally. In some circles, my dad is considered the photographer of the Hawaiian sovereignty movement. I suppose voting is something you just do in our family.

See also: Ed Greevy – Long Story Short with Leslie Wilcox

In 2006, I volunteered for Senator Akaka’s re-election campaign. It was quite an experience, one I will always cherish. The above photo was taken the night of the Primary election.

I am also a proud graduate of McKinley High School in Honolulu. Its alma mater includes Senator Daniel K. Inouye, Senator Hiram Fong, Governor George Ariyoshi, and Senator Tammy Duckworth.

Senator Inouye is the first and only U.S. Senator to be awarded both the Medal of Freedom and the Medal of Honor; Senator Fong was the first Asian U.S. Senator in history; Governor Ariyoshi is America’s first governor of Asian ancestry; and Senator Duckworth is the first Thai American woman elected to Congress, the first person born in Thailand elected to Congress, the first woman with a disability elected to Congress, the first female double amputee in the Senate, and the first senator to give birth while in office.

In Hawaii, we have a unique type of caste system: we pre-judge each other by the high school you went to. If you went to a public school like McKinley, success in life is deemed improbable. This is especially so if you’re also Native Hawaiian. If you went to a private school though, much is expected. That’s why the first question we ask each other is, “what high school you went?”

Yet while considered a dropout factory, McKinley certainly excels at indoctrinating pride in its graduates.


No vote no grumble

We are Hawaiian and we vote

It’s no secret in Hawaii that Native Hawaiians, in general, do not vote.

Take District 43 on the island of Oahu for example: nearly 65% of the population is Native Hawaiian, only 26.3% actually vote.

In fact, there’s even a slogan that circulates every election cycle that’s aimed at us: No Vote No Grumble.

If you dig deeper, I would not be surprised if a majority of indigenous peoples in the U.S. share our nadir turnout rates.

As one of the (too) few Native Hawaiian CEOs out there, it is important to me that we vote at Paubox. It’s about leadership. It’s about being American. It’s about being Hawaiian.

I don’t care who you vote for. I care that you vote.


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