Elections on Track as Court Rules Against Hawaii Redistricting Suit

Nanea Kalani/Civil Beat

Hawaii's elections can move ahead as planned under political boundaries that exclude nonresident military personnel, a panel of federal judges ruled Tuesday.

The court denied a preliminary injunction seeking to toss out the redistricting plan approved in March by the state Reapportionment Commission.

The judges said invalidating the plan would be "spawning chaos rather than confidence in the election process."

The plaintiffs — eight Hawaii voters, including state Rep. Mark Takai — had argued the plan is unconstitutional and discriminatory because it removed more than 100,000 military personnel, their dependents and out-of-state university students from political district population totals. Four of the plaintiffs are military personnel or veterans.

Their lawsuit claims the plan violates the federal Equal Protection Clause.

"Although we recognize that the right to representation is fundamental, 'a federal court cannot lightly interfere with or enjoin a state election,'" the order said, citing a 2003 California case.

U.S. District Judges J. Michael Seabright and Leslie Kobayashi and U.S. Circuit Judge M. Margaret McKeown of San Diego said "the equities and public interest tip overwhelmingly in (Reapportionment) Commission's favor."

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