Hawaii Panel Votes to Include Military, Students

UPDATED 6/28/11 5:48 p.m.

Hawaii's 2011 Reapportionment Commission has voted 8-1 to include non-resident military personnel and their families as well as sentenced felons and college students as part of political district populations.

The decision, if it stands after the commission takes its plan to residents statewide, would likely cost the Big Island a Senate seat it would otherwise gain due to population gains since 2001. The inclusion of the four groups is a departure from the decision made a decade ago.

"Just because it didn't in the past doesn't mean it shouldn't be done differently in the future," said Republican Party chief Dylan Nonaka, a commission member who introduced the motion to use the U.S. Census count as the state's redistricting population base. "I think in a lot of ways it was a wrong decision and this is maybe a chance for us to right a wrong."

Advisory councils representing Maui and Kauai had advocated for extracting all the groups from the base, and the Big Island council had said to exclude military but include students. Oahu's advisory council had recommended all groups be included.

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