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Flaw in Redistricting Software Means Hawaii County Council Districts to Change Again in 2014

The State of Hawaii Reapportionment Commission announced today that there was a flaw in the software that was used in 2011 to draw the Hawaii County District Maps and that a new Redistricting Commission will be selected next month to redraw county districts based on the 2010 Decennial Census Bureau Population Count.

Redistricting

The software used was a ArcGIS platform and pertinent dataset components provided comprehensive features and functionality for plan management, visualization, editing, and community collaboration.

Hawaii County Councilman Dru Kanuha, who was the Redistricting Commission Co-Chair, said “Unfortunately the software was flawed and the data was only recently inputted correctly so the new maps need to be drawn.  We can’t unding a bell and have an entirely new election.”

In establishing the boundaries of the districts, the Hawai‘i Reapportionment Commission gave consideration to the following factors: (a) population deviations from ideal district targets (b) cohesiveness, contiguity, integrity, and compactness of territory, and (c) socio-economic interests of the districts.

Another member of the 2011 Redistricting Commission and current Councilwoman Valerie Poindexter stated, “We did the best we could with the software that we had.  None of us (members of the commission) knew that the software was flawed.”

Fourteen plans were submitted by Advisory Councils or the public prior to July 26, 2011 and were reviewed by the Commission before their proposed plan was published. An additional twelve public plans were received during the public hearing period as well as verbal and written testimony. Congressional, State Senate and State House plans now online are those adopted on March 8, 2012.

Rene Siracusa, who was the Chair of the Commission, stated “It’s unfortunate that this has happened, however, I believe even if we had the correct software, that the current districts that were drawn into place, would still remain the same”

A County Council Meeting to discuss these matters is scheduled for Executive Session later on today, April 1st.

The Hawaii County Redistricting Process… Was There Gerrymandering? The Minutes From the Last Commission Meeting

Gerrymandering:

In the process of setting electoral districts, gerrymandering is a practice that attempts to establish a political advantage for a particular party or group by manipulating geographic boundaries to create partisan, incumbent-protected districts. The resulting district is known as a gerrymander (play /ˈɛriˌmændər/); however, that word can also refer to the process.

Gerrymandering may be used to achieve desired electoral results for a particular party, or may be used to help or hinder a particular demographic, such as a political, racial, linguistic, religious or class group.

When used to allege that a given party is gaining disproportionate power, the term gerrymandering has negative connotations. However, a gerrymander may also be used for purposes that some perceive as positive, such as in US federal voting district boundaries that produce a majority of constituents representative of African-American or other racial minorities (these are thus called “minority-majority districts“).

Many folks have been wondering if there was any gerrymandering going on during the Hawaii County Redistricting process.  On Wednesday, December 16th a special meeting was called to order to address this situation.

The following is the minutes from the meeting:

2011

HAWAI‘I COUNTY

REDISTRICTING COMMISSION

13th Session

Wednesday, December 16, 2011

County Council Chambers

25 Aupuni Street

Hilo, Hawai‘i 96720

 CALL TO ORDER:

CHR. SIRACUSA:  It is 1:35 p.m., so I am going to call this meeting to order.  This is the 13th session of the Hawai‘i County Redistricting Commission,and this is a Special Meeting.  Do we have anyone in Kona or Waimea; or are we all here?  We are all here.

ATTENDANCE:

Present:  Mr. Joseph Carvalho, Commissioner, Mr. Patrick Kahawaiola’a, Commissioner, Mr. Craig “Bo” Kahui, Commissioner, Mr. Dru Mamo Kanuha, Commissioner, Mr. Jeffrey Melrose, Commissioner, Mr. Mike Middlesworth, Commissioner, Ms. René Siracusa, Chair, Ms. Valerie Poindexter, Commissioner, Ms. Linda Ugalde, Commissioner

Also Present:  Michael Udovic, Deputy Corporation Counsel, Joseph Kamelamela, Deputy Corporation Counseln Charmaine Shigimura, Executive Assistant to Mayor Kenoi, Jamae K. K. Kawauchi, County Clerk, Steve “Kawena” Lopez, Deputy County Clerk, Cori Saiki, Elections Staff, Shyla Ayau, Elections Staff, Nora Avenue, Committees Section Staff, Maile David, Legislative Specialist, Manu Hanano, Council Aide in Waimea, Barbara Lively, Legislative Assistant, Pahoa, Leslie “Lali” Robinson, Deputy Executive Assistant in Kona, Karen Eoff, Secretary

CHR. SIRACUSA:  Okay, we are all present and accounted for.  We have no guests, is that correct?

MR. KANUHA:  Madam Chair, before we continue, I would like to make a motion to go into Executive Session to talk about what we are actually here for, with our attorney.

Mr. Kanuha moved to go into Executive Session to discuss with Corporation Counsel, the purpose of the Special Meeting. Seconded by Ms. Poindexter.

CHR. SIRACUSA:  Is there any discussion?  I believe we need a two-thirds vote.

MR. MELROSE:  I just want to suggest, that we really don’t know why; and I think that more for the community’s perspective, I want to get into a conversation that we understand where it’s going.  The reason why we are here is not all that clear to me from a special purpose perspective.  So, I think it’s a good idea to have a conversation, because we haven’t had a chance to—What is the authority for calling it, and all of those kinds of questions.  It would be helpful, useful to me, before we get to the Order of Business.

MS. POINDEXTER:  I agree; I totally agree.  We are just blindsided here.  I feel blindsided by this.

CHR. SIRACUSA:  I think we definitely need to have a conversation.  But I am wondering if it would be a good idea to have it in Executive Session; as opposed to everything else we have done so far has been totally out in the open.  And I think the minute we start going into Executive Session, people are going to start getting suspicious.

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Redistricting Online Software Updated and Tweaked to Reflect Only Hawaii Island Population

The Online Software for creating a Redistricting Plan has been updated to reflect only the resident population of Hawai‘i Island.

Hawaii County districts

The results of the 2001 redistricting

The new template has extracted the non-resident military and non-resident student population.

If you wish to create a Redistricting Plan to submit to the Commission, the default template for Hawaii Council now uses the Extraction C population base.

If you have already created a plan and wish to re-save it with the updated population numbers, plans can be migrated using the steps provided on the attached document. (This document provides step by step instructions for migrating a previously created plan to a different population base)

Be sure to use “Hawaii_2010_C” for the source geography.

Alternate Plans must be submitted to the Commission by September 15, 2011.

 How to view a map:

1.         Go to the County Redistricting website:  http://co.hawaii.hi.us/council/reapp/index.htm

2.         Click on “Maps” Folder

3.         Click on “Online Plans” Folder

4.         Choose “Plan”

5.         Save Plan (file) to desktop

6.         Login to https://redistricting.hawaii.gov/

(Note: first-time users must create a user name and password)

7.         Choose Template Plan (Hawai‘i Council) Hit OK

8.         Click on “File” (top left)

9.         Click on “Open Local” Folder

10.       Select Plan (file) from your desktop

11.       Open Plan (file)

How to create a map: (note: Mac users – requires Safari to access software)

Login to https://redistricting.hawaii.gov/

1.         Read ESRI tutorial materials to get familiar with the software.

2.         Using the ESRI software, create an account for yourself.

3.         After logging in, click the “Create” tab to begin work on your plan.  Save often.

4.         Once your plan is completed (and verified using the ESRI online tools in conjunction with the     published committee guidelines), save a local copy to your computer.

To save a local copy:

Click the “File” tab (next to the “Create” tab)

Locate and click the button labeled “Save Local.”

Make sure the navigator window is opened to your local Desktop.

Give your plan a name, then click “Save.”

To submit your Plan to Redistricting Commission to review:

Locate the file on your Desktop. (Close or minimize the ESRI software loaded in your browser). The file will have a plan extension (e.g. MyPlan.plan).

Open your email program and create a new email message to HCRC2011@co.hawaii.hi.us.

Using the email program’s attachment feature, attach your .plan file to the email and send.

Hawaii County Redistricting News and More

Here is the latest information on the Hawaii County Redistricting meeting that will take place on Monday, April 25th: