Fall 2001 Home   Newsletters

Winter 2001

Spring 2002

President's Message (Maile Bay)
Second Redistricting Plan Approved (Jean Aoki)
Judicial Independence Project Report (Jean Aoki, Jaurene Judy & Jackie Parnell)
Hawaii Coalition Against Legalized Gambling (HCALG) (Dorothy Bobilin)
Annual Fundraiser Nets Support
Members who Love to Travel
Mahalo to the Volunteers
Welcome New Board Member
Florida Election Memorabilia on Auction Block
Voters, Candidates Flock to Democracy Net During Election 2001 (Bob Adams)
Kauai League (Carol Bain)
Trials of Charter Schools in Hawaii (Mary Anne Raywid)
James Koshi

Second Redistricting Plan Approved

On November 30, the Reapportionment Commission, after a second round of hearings throughout the state, approved a new redistricting plan that will be used until the next reapportionment ten years from now. It also assigned two and four-year terms for the 2002 senate elections to achieve the staggering of senate terms.

Because of the overwhelming opposition to the inclusion of military dependents in the population base (coming mostly from the neighbor islanders who would gain more representation in both the House and the Senate, and some of the districts on Oahu which stand to benefit from their exclusion), the Reapportionment Commission discarded the first plan and drew new district lines which also did away with canoe districts. Areas on Oahu like Kaneohe and Kailua where many military dependents live saw their districts grow in geographic size because of the need to include more residents to replace the "lost" military dependents.

As approved, the new district lines will result in a gain in the Senate of a ½ seat for Maui and the loss of a ½ seat for Kauai. Hawaii and Oahu keep the same number of senators. In the House, Hawaii County gains one seat, Kauai County gains ½ a seat, Maui County gains ½ a seat, and Oahu loses 2 seats. (actually, these are not equivalent precisely to half seats, as suggested here, because presently Maui and Kauai share a representative with another island unit.). The final counts will be:

Senate: Hawaii, 3; Kauai, 1; Maui, 3; Oahu, 18
House: Hawaii, 7; Kauai, 3; Maui, 6; Oahu, 35

Formerly the target population for each county was the same, which necessitated the canoe districts. The adjusted permanent resident population for the whole state (the total census count minus non-resident students and nonresident military and their dependents) is 1,123,330. Under the former plan, each senate district throughout the state would have been as close to 44,973 residents (1,124,330 divided by 25) as is practically feasible.

In order to make it possible to keep the island units intact and not resort to canoe districts, each island is assigned its own target population per seat - instead of having the same statewide target populations for each senate district and for each House district. This year, Oahu's count of 790,233 divided by its allotted 18 senate seats gives it a target population per senate district of 43,269. Kauai County has only 1 senator so the population per seat is 58,288. Maui County has 3 senators with a target population for each senator of 42,668. Hawaii County's target is 49,269.

My first reaction was, "Is that constitutional? Does it comply with the one-man, one-vote rule?" That remains to be seen. I need to point out that for Congressional seats, the target population for each state is not exactly the same because, obviously, we cannot have two states sharing one representative.

One way of reconciling inequities was to combine the representations in the House and the Senate. Even if a county is over-represented in the House, if it is underrepresented in the Senate by the same degree, it is deemed all right. Kauai lost ½ of a Senate seat, but it gained a ½ seat in the House.

Maui was the winner in this round. It gained ½ a seat in both the House and the Senate, and it is over-represented in both houses. Based on statewide target populations, Kauai County is underrepresented in the Senate by 30% and over-represented in the House by 12%. Oahu is over-represented in the Senate by 2% and underrepresented in the House by 2%. Hawaii County is over-represented in the House by 4% and underrepresented in the Senate by 10%.

The population difference between Maui and Kauai is such that Maui over-represents Kauai by 26%. Population deviations up to 10% are assumed constitutional. When deviations range between 10% and 16.4%, the reapportioning body must provide substantial justifications. Any deviation beyond that is assumed unconstitutional.

When asked about the risk should the district plans be challenged in court, Chair Minami said that he felt that because our state constitution lists as one of the criteria for reapportionment that "no district shall extend beyond the boundaries of any basic island unit," and because Kauai is over-represented in the House, he is hopeful that the courts will uphold the plans.

Reapportionment: an electoral issue or a representation issue?

In testimonies at the November 30th meeting, there was a difference of opinion between those who supported the exclusion of military dependents and those who opposed it. Those who opposed the exclusion emphasized the points that 1) legislative representatives of the districts represent all of the residents, not merely the ones who vote or are eligible to vote, so representatives in districts with many military dependents will be dealing with more people than the other representatives; 2) in the allocation of resources, the districts which include the majority of military dependents are unfairly penalized; 3) military dependents live and work in our communities, pay excise taxes and certain fees, contribute to school and community events and fund drives; 4) 48 states include military dependents in their population bases for redistricting purposes; and 5) they are included for congressional redistricting and for the Honolulu City Council districts.

For those who opposed their inclusion, it is an electoral issue - allocation of representatives in proportion to voters and citizens in each district. One questioned the inclusion of aliens.

The Need for Review

Every ten years, it seems, our district lines have to be redrawn at least twice because of challenges to the population base used and other concerns. Much time is wasted, and deadlines aren't met. It is time, I think, for the state to amend our constitution to clarify certain issues such as population base, the meaning of permanent residents, the role of the advisory councils, the method of calculating deviations, the independence of the Reapportionment Commission, the appointive authorities, etc. I think it is time to consider convening a Citizens' Conference involving representatives from many different organizations and some individuals (not a government task force) to come to a consensus on these issues and to recommend amendments to our constitution. This would expedite the work of future commissions.

Jean Aoki

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