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Rejection of political maps would create ‘chaos,’ state argues

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Upcoming elections could be thrown into "chaos" if new political boundary maps are required, state attorneys said today in asking a three-judge panel to accept the boundary plan drawn up by the state Reapportionment Commission.

Arguments were made today on a preliminary injunction being sought by five voters who say the plan is unconstitutional because it excludes 108,000 so-called "nonpermanent" residents from the population base used to determine district boundaries.

A three-judge panel of the U.S. District Court is hearing the case and is expected to issue a decision soon.

Robert Thomas, representing the plaintiffs, argued that excluding nonpermanent residents — nonresident military members and their dependents and students who pay nonresident tuition — violates the equal protection clause of the U.S. Constitution.

Thomas also contends that the Reapportionment Commission has created districts of unequal size that leads to unequal representation in the state Legislature.

Deputy Attorney General Bryan Abruano, representing the commission and the state Office of Elections, cited previous cases that say the state may define the population base to exclude certain residents to prevent distortions that might occur if large numbers of temporary residents were counted.

The only witness called to testify was Chief Elections Officer Scott Nago, who outlined the timetable faced by elections officials and repeated the challenges his office would face if new maps were required.

"It’s next to impossible to have this election in a timely manner without potential chaos," Abruano said.

Reapportionment and redistricting occurs every 10 years to redraw political boundary maps to reflect changes in the population as documented in the most recent census.

 

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