Here are five of the most common, based on my unscientific wanderings:
• People are fed up with the Electoral College. Hawaii has only four votes, which makes people feel like they don't matter on the national scene. (An average American vote has a one in 60 million chance of determining a national election, says Columbia University. Hawaii's odds are "nearly zero.")
• Locals are sick of hearing who will be the next president of the United States before their polls close. That happens at 6 p.m. local time, or midnight in Washington. The state feels like a complete afterthought on the national scene.
• They're good at statistics. By that I mean they realize their one vote rarely would decide the outcome of an election. (Counterpoint: The Hawaii House District 4 primary was decided by three votes; make two friends, and you could swing it.)
• They don't trust the polls. Michael Remen, from the Big Island of Hawaii, loved voting and talking politics until he spent an hour and a half just trying to cast a ballot in the primary this year. There was such confusion that he left, and he is so frustrated he doesn't plan to vote in November. Several polling places on the Big Island also opened as much as 90 minutes late, causing voters to be turned away. The whole thing was such a mess that the state has stepped in to help run the elections in November. That's great, but it's not enough to sway Remen.
• Finally, they're sick of the Democratic Party's dominance in the state.
Of these, No. 5 is the excuse I heard most often and most passionately.
"We're just very one-sided in Hawaii, and it has been that way for close to four decades now," said Nacia Blom, executive director of the Republican Party of Hawaii.
Essentially, Hawaii is a one-party state.
Around the time of statehood, Democrats and labor unions rose to power by standing up for the rights of pineapple and sugar plantation workers. That historical clout has lasted decades. With few exceptions -- Linda Lingle's 2002 election as governor is one, and she's running this year for a U.S. Senate seat -- Democrats have dominated all levels of government ever since. In 2008, 72% of Hawaii's voters picked Obama for president. Only District of Columbia voters chose him by a wider margin. The state has given its electoral votes to Republicans only twice in its history: in 1984 and 1972.
There's a general sense in Hawaii that the Democratic Party, and the unions that support it, decide elections behind the scenes, before people vote.
It's hard not to find some truth to that when you talk to people like Laura Thielen, whom I met one morning on the side of a highway. She was waving to commuters and smiling while holding a sign with her name on it. This sign-waving tradition, as it's called here, emerged in part because Hawaii bans billboard advertisements.
Thielen told me the Democrats didn't want her to run on their party ticket because she hadn't been a member of the organization long enough. That seems suspect because her mother is a prominent Republican, and Thielen worked under a Republican governor. She says she's always espoused Democratic values, she just hadn't registered with the organization, since Hawaii has an open primary voting system.
The Republicans, meanwhile, have lots of trouble finding candidates who want to sign up. Seventeen of 51 state House races and 10 of 25 Senate races are uncontested because the Republicans did not put up a challenger, said Blom, from the Republican Party.
The state party's goal is to triple the number of Republicans in Hawaii's Senate.
That sounds ambitious. But right now, there's only one Republican in the state Senate: Sam Slom, one of the feistiest politicians in the state.
"The lesson in all this is one party, whether it be Republican or Democrat, is not good for any living being," said Slom, whom I described on the "Change the List" blog as the likeable, less-bat-like version of Ross Perot. He is on every state Senate committee -- and he's the minority leader, obviously. He's the only dissenting voice.
"We've got Republicans who are scared of being Republicans," he said, adding that many Republicans don't put their party affiliation on their campaign signs.
Without real choices between people with conflicting ideas, what's the point in voting?
'But I vote!'
Edythe and I slid down to the edge of Honolua Bay at sunset.
We wanted to see the place that had turned a 40-something non-voter into a candidate.
It was certainly a sight to take in. The air smelled of salt and pine. The sky swirled with pinks and oranges. Far on the horizon, you could see the neighbor islands of Lana'i and Moloka'i, purple humpbacks that looked to be painted on the sky.
From the road, high above, we had spotted two young women surfing. We followed a gently used trail down the cliffs and to the water's edge, the rocks changing from coarse sandpaper to something with the texture of ice. It was difficult to keep our footing, but eventually we made it, camera in tow. It's easy to see why this bay is beloved: It's hard for tourists to scamper down.
At the volcanic shoreline, I stood on a black rock, waves crashing at my feet, and called out to the surfers. It felt like a scene out of a bad romantic comedy.