New Plan for Hawaii Legislative Districts Draws Second Lawsuit

A second lawsuit has been filed in state Supreme Court against the Hawaii Reapportionment Commission over its redistricting plan that counts most non-resident military and their families as part of the state's population.

Kona attorney Mike Matsukawa is suing the commission and Chief Election Officer Scott Nago, asking the court to find the current redistricting plan invalid and to have the boundaries redrawn. (A copy of the lawsuit is embedded below.)

Matsukawa's lawsuit, filed Thursday, argues the plan is invalid "because (it) does not use the state's 'permanent residents' as the population base as is constitutionally mandated." He contends that the commission did not make a "good faith" effort to follow the constitution when it voted 8-1 back in June to count non-resident military personnel, their families, sentenced felons and out-of-state college students as part of the population.

If the commission had excluded approximately 85,000 non-permanent residents from the population, Matsukawa says the Big Island would likely gain an additional Senate seat due to population growth over the past decade.

"If they used only permanent residents to do their calculation, then what happens is the Big Island would be entitled to one additional Senate seat to the loss of a Senate seat on Oahu," Matsukawa told Civil Beat. "So that is why the use of the proper population base becomes critical — someone's going to gain, and someone's going to lose."

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