The Hawaii Supreme Court needed only hours to decide that the state’s reapportionment plan is unconstitutional and must be re-done.

Ruling in two separate lawsuits, the court said the Hawaii Constitution “expressly mandates” that only permanent residents be counted.

“The 2011 Final Reapportionment Plan disregards this constitutional mandate by including non-permanent residents in the population base that the Reapportionment Commission used to allocate the members of the state legislature among the basic island units,” the court wrote in rulings issued at 3 p.m. and 3:05 p.m. Wednesday. Both rulings were unanimous, 5-0.

The ruling came almost immediately after justices questioned the legality of the plan at a hearing Wednesday morning.

The constitutional questions arose after the commission decided to exclude only a portion of the military service members, their families and students who are not permanent Hawaii residents from the state’s population count. The commission determined that excluding all those people would be difficult and error-prone because the Department of Defense would not provide detailed address information for its service members.

That decision meant the Big Island would still have only three seats in the Hawaii Senate rather than the four it would have if the nonresident military, housed primarily on Oahu, were removed from the population base. It caused an uproar on the Big Island, where people felt they weren’t going to get the representation that they deserved.

Big Island Democrat Sen. Malama Solomon was one of the plaintiffs.

The new plan will presumably extract more than 100,000 nonresident citizens and move an extra Senate seat from Oahu to the Big Island. Boundaries on both islands — as well as on Kauai and Maui, potentially — will need to be shifted to account for the new population base.

Military members were extracted the last time lines were drawn, 10 years ago after the 2000 U.S. Census count. An educator in California says Hawaii and Kansas are the only two states to exclude military service members from their population bases.

The commission will need to act quickly on its replacement plan. Feb. 1 is the first day candidates can begin to file to run for the state’s 76 legislative seats.

You can read one of the two near-identical rulings below. Full opinions will be issued.

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