Honolulu Star-Advertiser

Monday, May 20, 2024 82° Today's Paper

EditorialOn Politics

Don’t like your lawmaker? Draw your own boundaries

Richard Borreca
Swipe or click to see more
The state Reapportionment Commission met in May at the Capitol. Now anyone can go online and offer the commission his or her own redistricting plan.

You had better hurry, but there is still time for you to get into the plan for divvying up Hawaii.

The dissection is the state reapportionment and redistricting plan, required every 10 years to adjust political boundaries for population changes.

For instance, if people are moving out of Makiki and people are moving into Kapolei, the new political lines reflect that. That part is easy.

What makes it interesting is how to draw those lines and the impact it will have on existing politicians. Do you move the line to take out the guaranteed supporters for a House member, can you move the line to help or hurt a senator?

Of course, the commission is not supposed to do that. But, now you can fiddle around with the lines yourself.

On the state Reapportionment Commission web site, there is a downloadable program (elections3.hawaii.gov/citizenhelp) for you and your buddies to draw your own reapportionment plan.

What you want is a plan that is balanced. All 51 state House districts should have roughly the same number of people. If you can balance out the demographics, good on you.

“It includes tools to promote an increased collaboration between government and citizens,” the commission website says.

It used to be that redistricting was the specialty of the boys and girls in the back room who had an arcane knowledge of the various political groups and subgroups. The grand masters of the art could break it down to a street-by-street level and draw the lines accordingly.

Now the commission web site provides you with the same demographic (age, gender, education, ethnic group and income) information that commissioners use to come up with their plans.

The online directions are clear, but serious. If you like making houses out of toothpicks, you will love doing your own redistricting plan. It is sort of like SimCity for politicians.

Your plan can be sent to friends or politicians or shared within a group. This means you and your collective group of farmers, activists, educators or out of work politicians, can get together and come up with a plan to suits you.

“Hawaii Redistricting OnLine also supports plan comparison to help you identify differences between two plans,” the commission website notes. There is no promise, however, that devoting your Facebook page to the 2011 redistricting plan is going to get you any more friends or followers. The commission staff reports that so far 126 individuals have logged on and at least two partial plans are in the works.

The DYI redistricting kit went online at the beginning of the month. The commission is expected to have its first proposed plans completed on Aug. 7 and will then take them out for public hearings.

The commission says it will treat any submitted plans from the public as public testimony. If you get your plan in before July 26 it will be reviewed before the commission members come out with their own plan. 



The July 10 “On Politics” column contained several errors:

>> A quoted news article was incorrectly attributed to the Associated Press; it was written by Carolyn Lochhead, the San Francisco Chronicle’s Washington, D.C., bureau chief.

>> The column incorrectly said U.S. Sen. Daniel Akaka had not talked with reporters since announcing his resignation.

>> Akaka is chairman of the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs; the column incorrectly said it was a sub-committee.


Richard Borreca writes on politics on Sundays, Tuesdays and Fridays. Reach him at rborreca@staradvertiser.com.

Comments are closed.