December 1987 Home   Newsletters

February 1988

April 1988

From the President (Anne Lee)
Speaking Out: Fear of Volunteering (Rhoda M. Dorsey)
Water Quality Issue Survey (Kiyoko Nitz)
Women's History Month
Lobbying Needed for Initiative (Marian Wilkins)
Join the Debate on Agriculture
New League Publication: Reapportionment in Hawaii
Fundraising Update
Initiative Forum (Marian Wilkins)
Natural Resources at the Legislature (Kiyoko Nitz)
From the Local Leagues...
And Other LWV/Hawaii News...
What Kind of School Would I Like? (Marion Saunders)

New League Publication:

Reapportionment in Hawaii: Inevitable Litigations – Unexpected Results

This new publication traces reapportionment controversies in Hawaii and was prepared for Hawaii legislators, community leaders and citizens who are considering the 1980 - 1984 reapportionment process and its implications for our lava and future reapportionments.

The LWV has a long history of supporting the apportionment of congressional and elected legislative bodies at all levels of government based substantially on population. This is the fairest and most equitable way of assuring that each vote is of equal value. We believe that the term 'substantially" used in U.S. Supreme Court decisions allows adequate leeway for districting to provide for any necessary local diversities.

In the 1988 state legislative session, 2 bills will be introduced proposing amendments to the the state constitution and statutes. The League will be urging legislators to pass them because we believe that our state lava must conform with U. S. constitutional guidelines.

Our constitution and statutes require that reapportionment of state and congressional districts be based on registered voters. But in recent litigation. Hawaii's conqressional and state legislative districts were found invalid because of their voter registration basis.

The U. S. Supreme Court has consistently upheld the one person-one vote principle: districts must be drawn so that each° legislator represents just about the same number of people as every other legislator.

The High Court has also held that the number of registered voters alone does not qualify as a permissible basis for drawing districts. However, in 1981 our districts were reapportioned on that basis.

These plans were challenged in the Federal District Court for Hawaii; as a party to the suit the LWV Hawaii argued that the registered voter base was unconstitutional. The court agreed: the maps were invalid.

To remedy this situation, the court appointed masters who drew up constitutionally acceptable plans (for 1982 elections) which included, for the first time ever, all single-member districts and 2 bi-county (canoe) districts. The state reapportionment commission then drew up new plans using a permissible population base, kept singlemember districts, and made 4 canoe districts. These plans were used for the 1984 and 1986 elections; they remain in effect until the next reapportionment in 1991.

Why is it important to make our laws conform with U.S. constitutional guidelines? If our state constitutional and statutory provisions requiring the use of registered voters remain as they are, and a future state commission follows them regardless of U.S. constitutional guidelines, district plans will be very vulnerable and open to legal challenge and could once again be found invalid.

This has serious consequences for the voters and those who wish to run for the legislature (whether incumbents or not). In itself, the required, periodic reapportionment process results in change and confusion. But, whenever district maps are challenged in court, there is even greater confusion and a much longer period of uncertainty. A first step in avoiding unconstitutional reapportionments can be taken by amending our laws.

It should be pointed out that the LWV does not have any positions which permit us to speak out in support or opposition of single-member versus multi-member districts or, whether canoe districts are inherently good or bad.

Where district lines are made determines who votes for which candidates and who each legislator speaks for. Thus those who carry out reapportionment hold a great power indeed over our basic right to equal representation. For this reason it is important that our laws guarantee us that right.

We wish to thank the anonymous donor who made publication of our booklet possible.

If you would like more on reapportionment you can order our latest publication by using the form below:

Please send me Reapportionment in Hawaii $3.50 per copy



number of copies ($3.50/copy)


Send this form to:

LWV of Hawaii

(attn, Anne Lee) 49 S. Hotel Street

Honolulu, Hawaii 96813

December 1987 Home   Newsletters April 1988