Prof. Justin Levitt's Guide to Drawing the Electoral Lines

Hawaii

State Summary

Hawaii uses a nine-member politician commission to draw congressional and state legislative districts.

In the 2010 cycle, Hawaii’s commission released final congressional and state legislative district plans on Sept. 26, 2011.  On Jan. 4, 2012, the Hawaii Supreme Court rejected the state legislative plans, for failure to properly exclude nonresident population under the state constitution. On Mar. 8, 2012, the commission approved new state legislative plans, and further challenges to the state legislative plans were rejected.

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  Governor:

Key Info for 2000 Cycle

Website

Primary governing law

Key Info for 2010 Cycle

Website

Primary governing law

Key Info for 2020 Cycle

Website

Primary governing law

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Institution

Hawaii’s congressional and state legislative lines are drawn by a nine-member politician commission, in place since 1968. Each of the four legislative leaders (majority and minority leader in each legislative house) chooses two commissioners, and those eight normally choose a ninth; if they cannot, the Supreme Court appoints a tiebreaking member. [Haw. Const. art. IV, § 2]

The Hawaii Supreme Court has original jurisdiction to review legal challenges filed in state court. [Haw. Const. art. IV, § 10]

Timing

The state constitution requires that the commission produce plans no later than 150 days from the date that it is formed. State statutes require that the commission produce draft plans for public comment no later than 100 days from the date that the commission is formed.  Candidates must file for congressional and state legislative primary elections by June 7, 2022. [Haw. Const. art. IV, § 2; Haw. Rev. Stat. §§ 12-6(a)25-2]

Hawaii law designates “reapportionment years,” and might therefore be construed to prohibit redrawing lines mid-decade. [Haw. Const. art. IV, § 1]

Public input

State statutes provide for public hearings on draft redistricting plans, with at least one public hearing in each of the state’s basic island units before a plan is finalized. [Haw. Rev. Stat. § 25-2]

In the last cycle, minutes from past meetings of the commission, and the schedule for upcoming meetings, were listed here.

Criteria

Like all states, Hawaii must comply with constitutional equal population requirements.  State statutes also require congressional districts to be as nearly equally populated as practicable.  For its state legislative lines, Hawaii apportions based on permanent residents (excluding non-residents like non-resident students and military); first, districts are allocated to the four basic island units (centered on Hawaii, Maui, Oahu, and Kauai), and then those district lines are divvied up within each unit to be as equal in permanent resident population as practicable. [Haw. Rev. Stat. § 25-2(b); Haw. Const. art. IV, §§ 4, 6; Solomon v. Abercrombie, 270 P.3d 1013, 1022-24 (Haw. 2012)]

Hawaii must also, like all states, abide by the Voting Rights Act and constitutional rules on race.

Hawaii has provided additional statutory constraints on congressional plans, which mirror state constitutional constraints on legislative plans. For both types of lines, districts must be contiguous; must be compact, if practicable; and must follow permanent and easily recognized features where possible, and coincide with census tracts where practicable. Where practicable, districts must also avoid submerging one area in another with substantially different predominant socioeconomic interests. [Haw. Const. art. IV, § 6Haw. Rev. Stat. § 25-2(b)] State legislative districts may be multimember districts, but no more than four members may be elected from any single district. Furthermore, where practicable, state House districts must be nested within state Senate districts. [Haw. Const. art. IV, § 6]

No district may be drawn so as to unduly favor a person or political faction. [Haw. Const. art. IV, § 6Haw. Rev. Stat. § 25-2(b)]

2010 cycle

Hawaii’s commission released final congressional and state legislative district plans on Sept. 26, 2011.

On Jan. 4, 2012, the Hawaii Supreme Court rejected the state legislative plans, for failure to properly exclude nonresident population under the state constitution. On Mar. 8, 2012, the commission approved new state legislative plans.  Further challenges to the state legislative plans were rejected.  [Kostick v. Nago, 960 F. Supp. 2d 1074 (D. Haw. 2013), aff’d 134 S. Ct. 1001 (2014); Solomon v. Abercrombie, 270 P.3d 1013 (Haw. 2012)]

2000 cycle

Hawaii’s commission enacted congressional and state legislative district plans on Nov. 30, 2001. It appears that neither plan was challenged in court.