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Vote Set for Thursday on New Political Maps

March 6, 2012, 7:09 PM HST
* Updated March 7, 12:08 PM
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Prospective candidates for the state Legislature may be able to file for office after Thursday when the state Reapportionment Commission is again scheduled to vote on a final plan.

The commission met today with members of its technical committee to go over changes proposed for districts on Oahu.

The commission was previously set to vote on the final political maps last month, but those plans were changed after commissioners were accused of gerrymandering and of splitting up communities on Oahu. Commissioners have met several times in the meantime to consider alternatives, and settled today on a plan which still needs a final vote.

The version of the maps that were the subject of public hearings last month placed seven pairs of lawmakers in the same districts. Two from the Big Island, Reps. Jerry Chang and Mark Nakashima, were among six pairs of House members that would have faced off. The seventh pair involves two senators from Oahu.

The new maps to be voted on Thursday still have seven pairs of lawmakers pitted against each other, but changed the opponents in two of the Oahu pairings.

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The Big Island map that puts both Chang and Nakashima into District 1, and creates a new fourth Senate district comprised mostly of Puna, remains unchanged from last month.

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Chang is the incumbent in the current District 2, while Nakashima is the incumbent in District 1 in Hamakua, which commissioners have extended into upper Hilo where Chang resides.

Candidates for the House and Senate in the Aug. 11 primary are not being allowed to file for office until the boundaries are settled. The deadline for filing is June 5.

Candidates for all other offices began their nomination process on Feb. 1.

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The new House and Senate maps were supposed to be completed last year but a Supreme Court ruling triggered by a lawsuit filed by four Big Island residents forced the commission to prepare new ones.

State election officials have expressed concern about having enough time to inform the public about the new boundaries, and where they would go to vote.

The Hawaii County Redistricting Commission completed the drawing of new County Council district maps in November. The newly drawn nine council districts would have pitted incumbents Brenda Ford and Brittany Smart against each other, but Smart has indicated she will not be a candidate in August.

 

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