Represent

VotingBoothA recent case to be heard by the Supreme Court may seem harmless on its face, but has much deeper ramifications for people of faith, and especially families.  The changes being argued before the Supreme Court in Evenwell v. Abbott would shrink the voice that families have through their elected officials.

The fundamental question being argued in Evenwell v. Abbott is whether the lines for representative districts (House, Senate, Council etc.) should be drawn according to the number of individuals or the number of eligible voters.  In the Texas case, should non-citizens (both legal and illegal) have representation? [1]

If the plaintiffs were to prevail before the Supreme Court, representation would be allocated based on the number of eligible voters, not the total population.  This would also remove minors from consideration when drawing district lines – they too are not eligible voters.

Time for some math!

Consider two communities, with an equal number of households (500), and an equal number of “eligible voters” in each household (2).  This comes up to 1000 eligible voters.  The only difference between a community like Mililani and Aina Haina would be the number of children per household.  Mililani might average 2 children per household, while Aina Haina might average just one child per household.  If one were to allocate representation based on “eligible voters”, then a representative for the Mililani case would represent 2000 individuals (1000 eligible voters and 1000 children) whereas a representative from Aina Haina would only represent 1500 individuals (1000 eligible voters and 500 children).

In the above case, a resident of Mililani would have a weaker voice in the Legislature compared to a resident of Aina Haina.  This would be to dilute the voice of families, and it would empower wealthy individuals with few or no children.  Fortunately, the Supreme Court case does not appear to affect Hawaii – we draw the lines according to “permanent residents”, not “total population” or “eligible voters”.

It is, however, a taste of things to come.  Those who followed the last reapportionment in 2011 saw liberal Democrats try to openly influence the drawing of district lines before the Reapportionment Commission.  They tried to pick and choose who should and should not be counted.  They believe that the military, who powers almost a third of our state economy, should not be counted.  These same liberal democrats are strong in the urban core (Waikiki, Kakaako, Nuuanu, Kahala etc.) where there tend to be few military personnel, fewer families and those families tend to be smaller where they do exist.

The overwhelming trend when looking at the most recent census is that families are moving to suburban Honolulu – to communities like Mililani, Ewa Beach and Kapolei.  Incidentally, these same suburban communities are also home to military personnel and their families.  If these communities had the electoral voice that they were due, Ewa Beach schools might already have their air conditioning and crowded multi-track schools would have never been allowed to take root.  This is not about one community fighting against another, only about “what’s fair is fair”.  What is pono.

While it is up for debate whether the founding fathers intended for non-citizens to have representation, there is less debate that children who are citizens deserve representation.  Our children are impacted just as much, if not more by the decisions that their elected officials make.


[1] For an excellent write-up about the Supreme Court case in question, head over to NPR.org and read: Test of ‘1 Person, 1 Vote’ Heads to the Supreme Court

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