"Respect the voters' will, quit attacking Clean Missouri" is the headline on a letter to the editor in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch by LWVMO President Evelyn Maddox. The letter comments on a quote by Dean Plocher that said he and other opponents of Clean Missouri wouldn't "be overturning the will of the voters" if they put redistricting back on the ballot. Maddox says in the letter, "In fact, the legislature has a worrisome record of overturning Missouri voters on multiple issues, including puppy mills and casino tax revenue for education.
"After the 2010 Census, it took two years to win court approval of new maps for Missouri's House and Senate districts that were drawn behind closed doors to protect incumbents and their parties. About 90 percent of races under the current maps have not been competitive.
"Amendment 1 will make sure that neither party gets an unfair advantage when maps are drawn and makes racial fairness central to the process. Legislative leaders from both parties will have a role in selecting an independent demographer who will use clear guidelines and state-of-the-art software to draw maps that will then be reviewed by a citizen commission that must hold public hearings. That's what 62 percent of voters supported."
Three resolutions were introduced in the Missouri Senate in December to eliminate the independent demographer, have a weaker race equity standard, put compactness as the top criteria, make fairness and competitiveness the least important criteria, and hide the data used for the final legislative district maps. Incumbents would have more protection, with political parties having more say in drawing legislative district maps than they did in the two-year redistricting process after the last census.
The resolutions introduced by Senators Hegeman and O'Laughlin would use Citizen Voting Age Population (CVAP) to draw the maps, excluding non-citizens and anyone under the age of 18. That is despite the fact that courts have not accepted the standard of total voting age population (TVAP) in redistricting and the Supreme Court's unanimous decision in Evenwel v. Abbott in 2016 said legislative districts must be drawn using the total population.
Proponents want to put one of these plans on the August 2020 ballot. The only "sweeteners" to repealing Clean Missouri's redistricting reforms would be eliminating lobbyist gifts that Clean Missouri capped at $5 and taking $500 off the $2,500 campaign contribution for Senate candidates.
The League encourages members to contact their state representatives to ask them to respect Missouri voters and not replace Amendment 1's fair maps with a more partisan process.
The League encourages members to contact their state representatives to ask them to respect Missouri voters and not replace Amendment 1's fair maps with a more partisan process. For more information, go to https://www.cleanmissouri.org/.