The Oahu Advisory Council will recommend that the state’s reapportionment panel include nonresident military and their dependents in the permanent resident base used to re-draw political boundaries, breaking with the neighbor islands in a unanimous vote Wednesday morning.
The four-member Oahu panel adopted a resolution encouraging the state to include all residents that were counted in the U.S. Census. That would mean not only the military families but also nonresident (college) students and convicted felons who are ineligible to vote.
In making the recommendation, council member Linda Smith pointed out that only Hawaii and Kansas do not currently count nonresident active duty military or their families for the purposes of redistricting.
The Maui and Kauai advisory councils previously recommended that the nonresident military not be counted. Because Oahu has a higher proportion of active duty military, it’s believed that counting them would give Oahu a chance to retain its representatives and prevent the Big Island from poaching a Senate seat.
In rebutting the argument that nonresident military should vote in Hawaii, Council Chair Michael Palcic pointed out that resident minors don’t vote but are counted for reapportionment purposes.
“There is a difference between voting and apportionment. … This population is here all the time. They rotate in and out, but there is a constituency here constantly,” he said.
The full Reapportionment Commission deferred action on the matter at its meeting later Wednesday morning, saying it’s waiting for input from the Big Island advisory council. Its next meeting is tentatively scheduled for June 28.
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