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Troops could tip Hawaii political lines

By Mark Niesse

Associated Press

LAST UPDATED: 07:22 a.m. HST, Jun 11, 2011

Hawaii is considering whether to start including nonresident members of the military when it redraws political boundaries this summer, a move that could maintain power on Oahu and help Republicans get elected in the Democrat-dominated state.

About 72,000 troops, their dependents and students who maintain residences outside of Hawaii were left out of counts used to shape state legislative districts a decade ago, a decision the Hawaii Reapportionment Commission is revisiting.

Because most military members live on Oahu, their addition could deny the Big Island from gaining a fourth Senate seat despite being the fastest-growing area of the state.

If out-of-state military are counted, Republicans could benefit because conservative-leaning districts surrounding bases may be split, leading to a similar number of voters choosing representatives in two districts instead of one.

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