You don't want to startle anyone, he said. And you don't want to attract angry dogs.
I headed out into the neighborhood with Heaukulani, who looks like a Hawaiian Santa, and Kelsey Amos, 23, who doesn't. Heaukulani was wearing jeans and shoes because of the dogs. Last time he was in this neighborhood, he said, one chased down his teammate.
I, of course, was wearing shorts and sandals.
The first person we met wasn't very excited to talk with us.
"I don't vote. I never did," said John Mole, a 59-year-old man in a black tank top and flip-flops. He doesn't register because he doesn't want to get jury duty.
"I know some of the representatives," he said. "They don't want to listen to me, because I don't vote."
It was a sobering moment, made sadder by the fact that Mole made the connection.
'Get out the vote'
Before I left for Hawaii, I read three books:
• "Get Out the Vote" by Donald Green and Alan Gerber
• "Mobilizing Inclusion" by Lisa Garcia Bedolla and Melissa Michelson
• "The Victory Lab" by Sasha Issenberg
All speak to the power of this idea: Asking someone to vote works.
"In thirty-six of forty-five experiments, canvassing was found to increase turnout," write Green and Gerber, political science professors at Columbia and Yale, respectively. "Putting all of the evidence together suggests that, as a rule of thumb, one additional vote is produced for every fourteen people who are successfully contacted by canvassers."
Michelson, from Menlo College in California, told me that some groups -- racial minorities, recent immigrants and residents of low-income neighborhoods -- don't feel like people who are supposed to vote in U.S. elections. But if you ask them to participate, she said, that can all change.
"It doesn't really matter what you say. It doesn't really matter who asks you," she said. "The important thing is the personal invitation to participate."
'Oh, you're one of us!'
Cochran knew that she would need to court people who never had voted before to win the election for County Council in Maui. She was new. She had to find new voters.
"It was the surfers" who carried me, she said. "I got a few of the surfers to want to vote just because they knew me and I surf with them. That's definitely a demographic that doesn't care about that kind of stuff. That was rewarding in itself, just to get someone who didn't even think to want to vote or care to want to vote. But because they knew me, and they said 'Oh, you're one of us! You're a surfer like us! And you're going to vote -- you're going to run for office!? I'm going to vote for you. At least I can relate to you.'
"And I'm like, 'Right on!' "
Cochran lives in the district of Hawaii with the lowest turnout rate in the state. In the primary election this year, fewer than 15% of registered voters cast ballots in House District 10, which encompasses Lahaina and a moon-shaped slice of West Maui. That's only 1,961 of 13,254 people, according to numbers compiled for CNN by local data hound Jared Kuroiwa. Elections in a place like that can easily be swayed if a candidate turns out voters who never have participated.
Friends helped Cochran hold campaign events. They passed out stickers that show a silhouette of Cochran "hanging ten" on the end of a surfboard: an impossibly hard move in which the surfer walks to the front end of the board and hangs all 10 toes over the edge. They hoped the campaign would defy the laws of physics, too.
One friend who helped Cochran with these efforts was Nani Teruya, a big-laughing, fast-talking woman who wears a flower above her ear. Teruya went so far as to stand on the highway with Cochran, holding her council signs and waving at commuters.
But when Cochran asked for her vote, Teruya said absolutely not.
To vote, she said, would defy her Hawaiian heritage. She wouldn't budge.