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Updated military census could mean more state lawmakers for Big Island, fewer for Oʻahu

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AP Photo/Audrey McAvoy
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The Hawaiʻi Office of Elections Reapportionment Commission met Thursday morning to resolve a dilemma about how to redraw local voting districts.

Reapportionment occurs every 10 years based on new census data. From that number, Hawaiʻi removes nonpermanent residents such as military servicemembers and their dependents.

But the commission just received corrected numbers from the military on New Year's Eve. The military's previous report in the summer was over 30,000 people short — a House seat covers roughly 27,000 people.

Since 98% of the military population is on Oʻahu, the reduced Oʻahu population — for reapportionment purposes — could mean an additional house lawmaker for the Big Island and one fewer for Oʻahu.

Bill Hicks, chair of the Kailua Neighborhood Board, proposed a solution to keep districts from being split up. The retired military commander offered ideas about splitting up the Windward and East Honolulu districts, as well as a segment of West Oʻahu.

This interview aired on The Conversation on Jan. 6, 2022. The Conversation airs weekdays at 11 a.m. on HPR-1.

Catherine Cruz is the host of The Conversation. Originally from Guam, she spent more than 30 years at KITV, covering beats from government to education. Contact her at ccruz@hawaiipublicradio.org.
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