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Tapping into West Maui’s surfer vote is just as hard as you’d think

Meet Elle Cochran, surfer turned council member in Maui. She never voted until she ran for office, and represents people who historically have been left out of the political system on this island of lush valleys and epic ocean views. Getting the surfing community to vote is no easy task, though. According to the district’s state representative, Angus McKelvey, voter turnout depends in part on how big of an ocean swell is headed for the island. If the surf is good, he said, few people go to the polls. Cochran, however, has mobilized some young people, even some surfers, by focusing on the preservation of Honolua Bay, which is a cherished local surf spot. Her campaign bumper stickers show a silhouette of her hanging ten on a wave.

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