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Helping To Create A Stronger Democracy

By Carmille Lim, executive director, Common Cause Hawaii

Common Cause Hawaii is the local chapter of Common Cause, a national nonpartisan, nonprofit “watchdog” organization that aims to promote citizen participation in the political process and hold government officials accountable to public interest. Common Cause is known as a “citizen’s lobby” because we advocate for and on behalf of the public interest.

With 4,000 members and supporters across the state, Common Cause leads efforts for a stronger democracy: limiting moneyed influence in politics, modernizing elections, fighting for government ethics, and promoting independent and diverse media. Since 1970, Common Cause has worked to make our political process more open, responsive and accountable, which in turn affects every government, social and economic issue.

Some recent accomplishments include: * Advocating for democracy reform measures. In 2012, we ensured the passage of the Online Voter Registration bill, which would allow Hawaii voters to vote online by 2016. This year, we have been advocating for election day registration (House Bill 321); greater transparency in political advertisements (HB 1147); timely disclosure of legislators’ financial interests (HB 1132); and publicly funded elections (HB 1481).

* Fighting and killing bills that threaten our democracy. In 2011, we successfully killed the “Gifts bill,” which proposed major loopholes in our state’s ethics law to allow legislators and state employees to accept lavish gifts. This year, we are calling on legislators to halt deceitful practices that alter the bill’s original language and intent.

* Advocacy training and education. In recent years, we have held numerous community educational workshops focused on advocacy and electoral process.

Our biggest challenge is also our biggest opportunity: We need more help from more citizens from around the state. The problems of closed and secretive government, corruption in politics, and citizen apathy and disengagement are huge, and can only be remedied with citizen participation.

Support our work by becoming a member, donating to our efforts and reaching out to your legislators to ask for government reform. Although we are a local chapter of a national nonprofit, our advocacy and education efforts are reliant on individual donations from Hawaii. In addition to sustaining our efforts, we currently are seeking donated office space. People can make a donation at common-cause.org/HI/donate.

For more information, visit commoncause.org/HI, email Hawaii@commoncause.org or call 275-6275. Connect with us at CommonCauseHawaii on Facebook, and follow us on Twitter (@CommonCauseHI).

Hawaii charitable organizations may send requests for space in either Proof Positive or the free advertisement below to dchapman@midweek.com.

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