Hawaii’s primary election is about 100 days away, and while the Office of Elections is busy preparing for it, the fate of the state’s legislative districts remains tied up in the latest legal challenge.

Plaintiffs in a federal lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of the state’s redistricting plan on Monday filed a motion for preliminary injunction seeking to halt the upcoming election.

“A preliminary injunction may be extraordinary relief, but here it is necessary to remedy an extraordinary wrong,” the motion said.

A hearing on the request is set for May 18 before a three-judge district court. That date is 18 days before a June 5 filing deadline for political candidates. Meanwhile, the elections office is continuing to prepare for the Aug. 11 primary using the plan approved in March.

In the lawsuit, filed earlier this month, state Rep. Mark Takai and five other Hawaii voters argue the redistricting 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 six plaintiffs are military personnel or veterans.

Despite the pending lawsuit, the Office of Elections is continuing to accept candidate filings for legislative districts that could end up being tossed out by the court.

If military personnel, their dependents and out-of-state college students are added back in to the base population, it could eliminate a fourth Senate seat the Big Island gained, and add back a Senate seat Oahu lost, under the existing plan.

“We’re continuing work as planned, preparing for the August 11 primary election,” said elections spokesman Rex Quidilla. “Candidate filings are ongoing. We’re doing typical election preparations done after every reapportionment cycle — precincting, assigning voters, securing polling places, recruiting poll workers.”

Asked how difficult it would be for the Office of Elections to adjust if the current boundaries are ultimately invalidated, Quidilla said his office had no comment due to pending litigation.

The motion seeking the injunction argues that the U.S. Constitution’s Equal Protection Clause requires that all persons be counted.

“By treating service members, military families and students as invisible, Hawaii’s plan unconstitutionally dilutes their rights and plaintiffs’ rights to equal representation and to petition their government on equal terms,” the motion says. “This exclusionary policy treats nearly 8 percent of the actual population — a vast majority of whom live on Oahu — as if they did not exist, which grossly distorts the boundaries and actual population of every Oahu district by depriving Oahu of a Senate seat.”

The Reapportionment Commission initially came up with 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 contended 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.

When the commission reconvened to draw up new plans, it removed more than 100,000 active-duty military and dependents and out-of-state college students, a change that shifted a Senate seat from Oahu to the Big Island.

“By barring military, their families, and students from representation in the legislature, Hawaii has insured they are represented nowhere: Because they are counted by the Census only as usual residents of Hawaii, they are not counted anywhere else,” the injunction motion said.

Honolulu attorney Robert Thomas, who filed the lawsuit on behalf of the plaintiffs, said his clients aren’t concerned about the short window leading up to the primary election.

“We think there’s enough time, we’re not that worried about that,” Thomas said, noting that the case is moving on an accelerated time schedule.

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