Hawaii Redistricting Panel Faces 'Terrible Dilemma'

The controversy over whether or not to count military personnel when redrawing Hawaii's political boundaries seemed moot Wednesday because the state can't accurately separate them from the general population.

The Hawaii Reapportionment Commission previously voted 8-1 in June to include non-resident military personnel as well as sentenced felons and college students — the basic Census population — as part of political district populations. Those groups were not included in the 2001 count that determined current House and Senate districts.

Amid threats of legal challenges to that decision, chairwoman Victoria Marks had recommended the panel draw up various scenarios to be safe.

But reapportionment staff told commission members Wednesday that they can't accurately extract military residents who were counted in the latest U.S. Census based on where they live. That's because the Department of Defense has only provided ZIP codes for active-duty military who don't declare Hawaii as their permanent residence.

That ZIP code data doesn't jibe with the more-detailed Census data used for redistricting, which uses Census blocks.

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