Island geography, a politically balanced commission and dominance in all politics by Democrats means redistricting and reapportionment issues are different in Hawaii than in other U.S. states. The islands haven’t seen significant impacts from gerrymandering in a state that voted 70 percent for President Barack Obama in 2012 and has had only three Republicans among 21 federal lawmakers since statehood. Hawaii has two U.S. House districts to go along with its two senators. The reapportionment and redistricting process is done every 10 years, governed by a commission created by the state constitution.
The state’s latest plan in 2011 had to be redone after the state Supreme Court ordered that temporary residents — military members and college students — be excluded from the population base. The shift sent one state House seat from Oahu to the Big Island and was upheld through a challenge that again reached the Hawaii Supreme Court, which ruled without comment in January this year.
“They did not want to run afoul of the one man, one vote rule,” said David Rosenbrock, a state Office of Elections official who was the project manager for the Reapportionment Commission for 2001 and 2011.