Military Plaintiffs Take Hawaii Redistricting Plan To Federal Court

Nanea Kalani/Civil Beat

With Hawaii's primary election just four months away, new legislative boundaries are again in limbo as the state's reapportionment plan heads back to court.

State Rep. Mark Takai and five other Hawaii voters are challenging the latest redistricting plan. In a federal lawsuit filed Friday, they claim the plan is unconstitutional and discriminatory as it removed more than 100,000 military personnel, their dependents and out-of-state university students from political district populations. Four of the six plaintiffs are military personnel or veterans.

"All persons within the jurisdiction of the state of Hawaii are entitled to be represented in the Hawaii legislature," the lawsuit says.

The suit seeks to prevent the State Office of Elections "from implementing the 2012 reapportionment plan, including, but not limited to conducting elections." It wants a new plan drawn up that uses the Census resident population as a basis.

Honolulu attorney Robert Thomas filed the lawsuit Friday on behalf of Takai, a major in the Hawaii Army National Guard; Joseph Kostick, a former Army lieutenant who was medically discharged last year; David Brostrom, a retired Army colonel; Larry Veray, a retired Navy petty officer; Edwin Gayagas; and Hawaii Free Press Editor Andrew Walden.

The suit names Hawaii Chief Election Officer Scott Nago and members of the Reapportionment Commission as defendants.

The Reapportionment Commission initially submitted a plan in September that removed about 16,500 military and college students because they weren't "permanent" residents.

That plan was challenged in two separate lawsuits for including too many non-resident military and their families as part of the state's population. Those suits claimed that counting these populations had cost the Big Island an additional Senate seat it would otherwise gain due to population growth.

The Hawaii Supreme Court in January ruled the reapportionment plan did in fact violate the Hawaii Constitution and had to be redone.

The Reapportionment Commission reconvened and released new maps in February that removed more than 100,000 active-duty military and dependents and out-of-state college students. The change shifted a Senate seat from Oahu to the Big Island.

The plan also pits two incumbent Oahu state senators and six sets of incumbent Oahu House members against one another for re-election. That includes Takai, who would face Heather Giugni in a Democratic primary.

The maps were revised several times amid public concerns and accusations of gerrymandering before the commission voted in early March to approve the plan.

Here's a copy of the suit:

Complaint for Declaratory and Injunctive Relief (Reapportionment), Kostick v Nago, No. CV12-000184-JMS (D. ...


DISCUSSION: What do you think of the latest challenge to Hawaii's redistricting plan?


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