Deputy Attorney General Brian Aburano predicts chaos if a three-judge panel of the U.S. District Court throws out redistricting maps for Hawaii's House and Senate precincts.
"By my calculations, it would be into October before you could have the state elections, and of course then you're only a month away from the November general election, so you might have to have that delayed, as well," Aburano told reporters, after a hearing that lasted just over two hours.
A group of eight plaintiffs, including current and former military members, filed a motion for a temporary injunction to prevent the state from implementing its new redistricting maps.
The plaintiffs' attorney, Robert Thomas, argued the maps violate the Equal Protection Clause of the U.S. Constitution, since they exclude 108,767 military members, their families, and nonresident university students from the reapportionment process without measuring it against a known constitutional benchmark, for example the official census count.
"That's the big issue in the case," said Thomas. "If they're not counted in Hawaii, they're really not counted anywhere. The U.S. Constitution protects everyone."
If the court ordered nonresident military personnel and their families to be included in new redistricting maps, state Chief Election Officer Scott Nago testified he would have to go back and secure up to 4,000 precinct officials and as many as 233 polling places.
But Aburano said the exclusion of nonresident military personnel and their families is more a matter of policy, rather than legality.
"It really doesn't affect your right to vote, your right to be represented (or) your right to petition your legislatures," he said.
The plaintiffs also claim new redistricting maps have produced districts of unequal size, upon which the U.S. Supreme Court frowns.
In their complaint for injunctive relief, the plaintiffs said Senate districts have gone above the "ideal population" by an average of 44.22 percent, while House districts deviated an average of 21.57 percent. The ideal population for each Senate and House district is 50,061 and 24,540 respectively.