Kanu Hawaii, a volunteer group, registers new voters in Honolulu.
Edythe McNamee/CNN
Kanu Hawaii, a volunteer group, registers new voters in Honolulu.

Story highlights

Change the List is trying to encourage voting in Hawaii

The state ranked last in 2008 for voter turnout

CNN asked the Internet to send encouraging messages to six nonvoters

Here are several arguments they made in favor of voting

CNN —  

Last week, as part of a new CNN project called Change the List, I asked random people on the Internet to send encouraging messages to six nonvoters in Hawaii, the state with the lowest voter turnout rate in the country. The goal: Convince them to vote, and start a conversation that could help bump Hawaii off the bottom of the national voter turnout list.

Maybe that sounds like a weird concept, but research supports the idea that asking someone to vote – inviting them into the conversation – works. Even if those communications are from strangers. And even if they’re online.

I was impressed by the the arguments you made in support of voting. Many of you spoke to personal experience – to the reasons you vote. Others evoked history, bringing up long and bloody struggles for suffrage. Here’s a list of the best-of-the-best. And the funniest. Thanks very much to all who participated in this little experiment. I’ll report back soon on whether these arguments convinced the nonvoters to change their minds.

1. The “veterans died for this” argument:

2. The children!

“As a citizen of the state of Hawaii and the U.S., inform yourself and engage. Not sure if you have children or not - but their future depends on your vote as well!” – Commenter mdkquito

3. The “honesty is the best policy” argument:

“I don’t really believe my vote matters much either, but I vote to honor my friends that risk their lives to guarantee my freedom to do so. Loving them is reason enough to make time to cast my ballot.” – Nan Palmero, Google+

4. The global citizen argument:

“For every person in every country in the world that CAN’T vote, you should not squander the privilege.” – Commenter CandianinLA

5. The “it could be worse” argument:

“I am an immigrant from Africa, this is my second time voting, and I know it matters. That one vote matters.” – Bijoux Kamandua, Facebook

6. The “yep, I do matter” argument:

“The fact that I voted makes this election a more valid and legitimate one than it would be if I had not voted. Regardless of whether my candidate wins or not, the fact that the winner was elected after many millions of people cast their votes means that he has earned the right to govern. That alone makes for a better country. My participation alone does not mean much. My participation with millions of others means a tremendous amount.” – Commenter John Baker

7. The “life and death” argument:

“Vote as if your life depended on it! In some way, some day it will.”

8. The argument in support of argument:

“As we say in Hawaii: no vote, no grumble. Your vote is your voice. If you don’t speak up, then don’t expect others to sympathize if you’re unhappy with the way things are going.” – Tumblr user

9. The frugal voter’s argument:

10. The Nixon argument:

“Haven’t missed an election since the Nixon disaster. You want another Nixon?” – Dennis Shaffner, Facebook

11. The politely minimalist argument:

12. The drug dealer’s argument:

“Give it a try Nani you will be amazed at how good you feel after doing this very patriotic thing.” – Joni DiMaggio on Google+

13. The ‘Yay, America!’ argument:

“Though imperfect, we still are part of a country that affords us all freedom, opportunity and choice. This is a privilege that you honor and support when you participate in the election of our leaders. Join us, Nani, in celebrating this precious liberty!” – Jacquelyn Ekern on Google+

14. Personal history as argument:

“Our right to vote is built on the sacrifice of countless others. For me, I gained that right through the sacrifice of my grandfathers. My paternal-grandfather fought in Germany to rid the world of an oppressive regime who opposed the very rights we take for granted here. I also vote to honor the sacrifice of my maternal-grandfather, who in 1920 left his family and all he owned in Mexico to start a new life here in America. Each of us Americans have an obligation not only to our forefathers who sacrificed much but to those who are coming after us. That they may inherit a country that imperfect as it is remains the only country where we its citizens are truly free and have the right to choose their and their country’s own destinies.” – Jesse Olivarez, a friend of mine, on Facebook

15. The “use it or lose it” persuasion:

“There used to be a time when women couldn’t vote. Though it’s a ‘right’ right now, if we aren’t judicious with it and take it for granted, it could be that one day we might not have that right. More than just voting in an important election, voting is a way to affirm what so many women went through almost insurmountable victories to achieve: That we will not be silenced and that our voice counts.” – Cyndi Calhoun on Google+

16. The “it only takes 10 minutes” argument:

17. (And a sub-argument for the millennials …)

18. The liberal mathematician:

“The 2000 election was decided by less than 600 votes. We got George Bush, 2 wars and went from record surplus to record deficits. I bet you 600 people who thought their vote didn’t matter regret not voting that day.” – Rotimi Oyewole, Google+

19. The guilty conscience argument:

20. The secessionist’s arguments:

21. The “feel good argument” (sent to a high-school student):

“Skyler, I remember voting for the first time at about your same age. I felt pretty special when I finished. It makes you feel you have done something very important and serious. You feel more a part of this big nation of ours. Your vote truly does matter and your opinions matter also. Please use for the first time your right to vote. You will be proud and glad you did. Don’t worry if you’re not familiar with all the candidates, I wasn’t either at your age when I voted for the first time.” – Stephanie Brake, Storify

22. The “you might be a property owner four years from now” argument:

23. The “OMG THE FUTURE IS COMING!!!” argument:

“Skylar IT IS YOUR FUTURE, the actions legislators take today could result in your losing your freedom or your wealth. DO YOU WANT TO BE STRADDLED WITH $25 TRILLION OF DEBT FROM THE BABY BOOMERS? If only the Boomers vote, then they will pass that debt to YOUR GENERATION. So VOTE and TAKE CONTROL OF YOUR FUTURE!!!!” – Storify commenter

24. Because life is not a video game (well, probably):

“Kids in other countries your age died over the right to vote. A young gal in Pakistan younger than you just got shot in the face b/c she was fighting for her rights as a young woman to go to school. Democracy is not a video game - it’s real and you are the US’ future! A year from now you may be a college student and in need of a federal aid (grants or loans) - who wins this election may determine if that is even there for you as well as your friends!” – Commenter mdkquito

25. Ideas matter:

“Hey guys, so I know the election may not matter to you at this point since you guys are still young. But, put it this way, one day you will understand how your vote can help change the world. Everyone’s thoughts and ideas go a long way. Your future will be based on how we elect our Presidents now and unfortunately if we are close minded, then we’re never going to make a change for our world.” – Commenter Carlos

26. Ballot boxes can be effective teachers:

“To the young man who doesn’t think he is smart enough, why not? You can make intelligent decisions. And if you vote regularly, you are going to cast some votes that you regret. So what? No political system is perfect, and those votes make you a better informed voter the next time.” – Commenter John Baker

27. The argument Ayn Rand probably wouldn’t make:

“One does not vote just to support their personal interests, but also support the interests of other(s). We live in a country where we have to help one another to create success. It’s what unites us as one people.” – Lorena Ibarra on Twitter.

28. The “We Are the World” argument:

“You are young, like me, which means that we are the future … Your vote matters.” – More from Lorena Ibarra’s comment on Twitter.

29. The rhymer’s argument:

“Don’t throw that right away, you might regret it one day.” – Commenter 4harmony

30. The referential argument:

“‘All that is necessary for evil to triumph is for good men to do nothing.’ - Edmund Burke” – Commenter mtnmedic64.

31. The Pearl Harbor argument:

“okay- in a state that saw such bloodshed in order to protect our freedom - they run from having a say in our government? People who do not vote tend to be the biggest critics of government and the country - if you choose not to vote - then keep your opinions to yourself - because the BEST opinion you can voice is at the voting booth.” – Commenter Deborah Bass

32. The anti-time-zone argument (Hawaii is 6 hours behind Washington, so elections are sometimes decided before polls close on the islands):

33. The jobs argument (sent to a chef in Hilo who experienced polling place troubles during the primary this year):

34. The Dickensonian argument:

“You’re living the charmed life in Hawaii, probably a life of no cares….but there is a community under and around you who may not be so privileged - sure you can handle a bit of time standing outside on a lovely Hawaiian afternoon to vote…bring a good cook book w/ you to improve your own skills!” – Commenter mdkquito

35. The “like, no worries, man” argument:

36. The empathy argument:

“Michael, I feel your polling pain. The first time I voted in my home state (Kansas) I felt as though I might be turned away for being a (gasp!) Democrat. The truth is, sometimes voting may not be convenient or pleasant, but it matters. Don’t forget you can vote by mail! Skip the polling lines altogether.” Beth Schepker, a friend of mine, on Facebook.

37. Because voting is easier than getting shot at, and almost as noble:

“Voting is one of the privileges that many have fought and died to be able to do … it is a right of passage for every American to be able to go and vote… voting is one of the most important things you can do for your Country other then serve in the military. It is your civic duty as an American and even if you don’t care about that .. you should care about it being your right to do so….Many around the world have not been allowed to vote… have not been able to vote… you have that right and you are able …it may be a mess… but it is one of the things that are worth it to stand in line for hours if need be… your voice will be heard … but only if you vote…” – Commenter Marbeth Hill

38. Because indecision and apathy are annoying at a certain point:

“Come on you have to make a choice and vote for the guy who you think will best defend the interests of our great nation and the Americans here at home and abroad.” – Andree Adam on CNN iReport’s Facebook page

39. Because you are an individual:

“Vote, it is your political power and it should not go to waste but be yourself, vote your conscience not what others say, be knowledgeable if you want your vote to really count.” – Commenter Winston Smith III

40. The aggressive, sci-fi lover’s argument:

“If MITT gets into office; he will melt you, your family, your distant relatives, and everyone else into puddles of radioactive waste within two years. How’s that for a reason.” – Commenter dohnet

41. The “it’s sad when you can’t vote yet” argument:

“As a legal immigrant waiting my 5 year period to become a citizen so I CAN vote, what do you need to be convinced??? It’s your privilege to vote - for a President, Congress and Senate and all local initiatives - not voting is just sad.” – Commenter CanadianinLA

42. Because local officials pay attention to areas with high turnout:

“When Hilo votes, politicians take notice and make a greater effort to earn your vote. Hilo has been economically neglected for decades, and greater turnout insures greater attention from our elected officials.” – Robert O’Neill, a friend of mine, on Facebook

43. The superhero argument:

“When you vote, you share your voice, express your concerns, and inspire others to follow. Don’t let the political cycle keep you silenced. Voting is your super-secret superpower. Do it.” – Commenter on Storify

44. The backhanded compliment:

“Check out Samuel Jackson’s video’s Wake the @#$% up for some more inspiration! By the way I love Hawaii!” – Commenter mdkquito

45. The Frank Tanabe (the veteran who recently voted from his deathbed in Honolulu) argument:

46. The “hey, you kids get off the lawn” argument:

“Hey guys, so I know the election may not matter to you at this point since you guys are still young. But, put it this way, one day you will understand how your vote can help change the world. Everyone’s thoughts and ideas go a long way. Your future will be based on how we elect our Presidents now and unfortunately if we are close minded, then we’re never going to make a change for our world. So, please go out and vote and please try and help out our society, by taking the time to vote. CHOOSE THE MAN WHO HAS THE BEST PLAN!” – Commenter Carlos

47. And, finally, persuasion by repetition:

If you have other ideas, please leave them in the comments, or message me on Twitter.