Members of the Missouri General Assembly this session will try to disable Amendment 1, the Clean Missouri reform act passed by voters last year. Amendment 1 passed statewide by a 62 percent majority.
That strong voter approval on Amendment 1 means nothing to some members of the General Assembly, whose chief concern is to hold on to their seats in the House and Senate. They especially want to do away with the redistricting provision of the amendment.
Both chambers are controlled by members of the Republican Party. They see the redistricting reform measure as a threat to their House and Senate districts. They want to do away with the provision calling for a nonpartisan demographer to draw legislative boundary lines rather than the party in power to control the process to serve incumbents, in this case the Republicans.
“Partisan gerrymandering, where representatives pick their voters rather than voters picking their representatives, creates safe seats. In these less-competitive districts, representatives might be more inclined to pay more attention to lobbyists than to the voters. Voters are rightly suspicious,” Angie Dunlap, an officer of the League of Women Voters of Metro St. Louis, testified before the Senate Rules Committee earlier this month. She added that the league works for “fair district maps to have a truly representative government.”
She also alluded to the strong vote in favor of Amendment 1. She said efforts to roll back Amendment 1 reforms “undermine voters’ confidence that their votes matter.” It’s a slap in the voters’ faces if the General Assembly cripples or does away with Amendment 1. And don’t try to tell us the voters didn’t understand the redistricting provision. The voters knew what they were doing when they approved Amendment 1.
The voters know that in redistricting every 10 years, as it is now, it allows the party in power to control the district boundary lines. The Republicans want to stay in power and that’s why they don’t want it to be a nonpartisan process. If the Democrats were in control of both chambers, they undoubtedly would be doing the same thing the Republicans are trying to do — do away with the redistricting provision.
We need to pay close attention to what our elected representatives from Franklin County do in this redistricting matter. Franklin County voters approved Amendment 1. They supported the Clean Missouri amendment. They don’t want it to be crippled in any way. We fear our elected representatives will go along with their party, which in this case is Republican, and vote to do away with the new redistricting plan. If they do, they are not representing the majority of people in Franklin County.