Hawaii Redistricting Panel Excludes Some Military

Nanea Kalani/Civil Beat

The Hawaii Reapportionment Commission has reversed its decision to count non-permanent military and college students as residents for determining Hawaii's political boundaries.

The commission on Monday voted 5-3 in favor of a model that would remove 16,458 active-duty military and out-of-state college students from the state's population base. The so-called extraction would not affect the number of Hawaii House and Senate seats assigned to each island.

The group is working toward a Friday deadline to file final proposals with the Chief Elections Officer, who then has until Oct. 10 to publish the plans. Revised maps reflecting the new base population should be available online by Tuesday afternoon.

The commission had previously held that there was no accurate way to separate non-resident military and students from the general population based on where they live, as has been done in previous years. The commission voted 8-1 in June to include these two populations as well as sentenced felons — the basic Census population — as part of political district populations.

Last week the commission held two hearings on the Big Island, where members heard protests against counting military and threats of lawsuits if it insisted on counting non-resident military and students.

On Monday, reapportionment staff presented new data at the commission's meeting showing that it would be possible to determine whether some military personnel were non-residents. They said that Census data did show military living in group quarters on military bases, rather than in the community, by Census tract.

Based on that new data, the staff came up with three scenarios to remove some military and students from the state's population base.

The approved model — dubbed Extraction Model A — uses Census data that identifies military personnel who live in group quarters on military bases in Hawaii, but the figures do not distinguish between permanent and non-permanent residents within the group. That means Hawaii residents and registered voters who happen to live in these quarters would be extracted from the population for reapportionment purposes. Commission Chairwoman Victoria Marks, who supported the model, said that being a registered voter in Hawaii would be a strong indicator that the person was a permanent resident, but that there wasn't enough time to try to weed those people out.

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