'I'll probably mail it out tomorrow'
"Aloha!" Heaukulani hollered from the street. "Hui!"
"Hui" means conversation or meeting. A union. Heaukulani called it out in a high-pitched, sing-song voice, waiting for someone to respond. "Hoooo-EEEEEY." No answer. A chain-link fence blocked the volunteers from knocking on the door.
That was the seventh house we visited without much luck.
House eight: No one's home.
"Somebody's definitely home at the next one," Amos said, a packet of voter info in hand. But a minivan pulled out of house 10 just as she approached.
"Sorry, we're on our way out," said a person in white sunglasses.
A door shut, and the van drove away.
Feeling dejected, we trudged onward, the mid-morning sun stinging our necks. A woman wearing a shirt with a Thai beer logo on the front was sitting in the garage at house 11. The door was open. At least she'd have to look at us before saying no.
Do you vote?
Would you like to register?
Last-ditch effort: Is there an issue important to you?
The volunteers explained that Kanu is asking candidates questions based on the issues identified by the people they meet while canvassing. If the candidates addressed her concern, they told her, they'd report back.
"Oh!" the woman said. I could almost hear her tongue loosening.
She launched into her life story. Her mom, she said, is 86 and lives here. Her mom's husband was Hawaiian, and that's why he was able to get a house in this neighborhood, which is reserved for native Hawaiians. But her mother's husband died recently, and the group that oversees the land wants to throw her mother out.
"Can't they let her stay until she passes on? It would be so much better," the woman said. "She knows all the neighbors. She feels safe enough."
The volunteers asked again. Wouldn't you like to vote? Your voice could be heard.
After some discussion, the woman, Marlene Joshua, 58, said yes.
Heaukulani handed her a registration form and a stamped envelope.
"I'll probably mail it out tomorrow," the woman said, sounding sincere.
That seemed like a real victory. Again, though, I started thinking big picture. By the end of the morning, we had been to 18 houses. Joshua, sitting in her garage, was the only one who agreed to sign up to vote for the first time.
I asked Heaukulani whether that low success rate leaves him feeling dejected, as it had me.