Apr. 20, 2019

By Sean Soendker Nicholson

Good government groups joined Missourians from both parties recently in condemning a stealth gerrymandering proposal that would roll back redistricting reforms that passed overwhelmingly by Missouri voters in 2018.

A new Committee Substitute for House Joint Resolutions 48, 46 and 47 was introduced and passed this week in the House General Laws Committee without a thorough vetting or review. It would:

Overturn the will of 1.4 million Missourians, who supported the Clean Missouri Amendment

Allow lobbyists and partisan political appointees to gerrymander maps to advance their own interests.

Allow communities to be split up by political appointees in the name of ‘compact’ districts.

Eliminate the requirement that data used for map drafting be made open to the public.

Remove the nonpartisan independence added to the state’s map-drawing process.

“Legislators should respect the people of Missouri who voted overwhelmingly to clean up Missouri politics,” says Nancy Miller, co-president of the League of Women Voters of Metro St. Louis. “This new proposal is designed by politicians to eliminate the rules voters just added to the state constitution to require fair legislative district maps.”

“Missourians just passed a new law to stop gerrymandering in November, by an almost two to one margin,” said Bob Johnson, a Lee’s Summit Republican who previously served in the General Assembly. “Their mandate from more than 1.4 million Missourians was clear: fair and competitive maps.”

“We can’t let a few politicians and lobbyists overturn the will of the people,” said Rod Chapel, president of the Missouri State Conference of the NAACP. “Republicans, Democrats, Independents, and Missourians from all walks of life supported Amendment 1 because it got us started cleaning up Missouri politics, and gives everyday citizens more of a voice in our state government.”

In November 2018, Missourians overwhelmingly supported a new, fair redistricting process that took away the influence of lobbyists and insiders when crafting new legislative maps. In its place, 1,469,093 voters enacted a new system with checks and balances to create districts where candidates will have to work hard to earn their votes, where lobbyists and political insiders can no longer rig the system, and to ensure that no political party gets an unfair advantage in any new maps.