The Legislature is at it again, and it is up to voters to tell them to stop.
Once more, the General Assembly is trying to overturn the clearly stated will of the electorate by putting a deceptively constructed amendment on the ballot to overturn a measure overwhelmingly approved by voters in 2018.
Amendment 3 is an attempt to reverse the redistricting process approved by more than 62% of voters as part of the Clean Missouri amendment. As we said in an Aug. 5 editorial, before the final votes were even in, some lawmakers said voters just didn't understand the issue and had bought a pig in a poke. So lawmakers have proposed their own pig of a measure, lipsticked with a pair of puny provisions to change the threshold of lobbyists' gifts to lawmakers and their staffs from $5 to $0 and to lower the campaign contribution limit for state senate campaigns from $2,500 to $2,400.
The Clean Missouri amendment set up a system that has an appointed demographer drawing the lines for state legislative redistricting. The plan requires the demographer to create maps according to a specific mathematical formula with an eye to competitiveness and partisan fairness. Commissions for each chamber can overrule the demographer, but 7/10ths of the members would be required to agree on any alternative.
Amendment 3 would kill the demographer system, restore bipartisan commissions appointed by the governor for legislative redistricting and de-emphasize competitiveness and partisan fairness in favor of compactness, equivalent voter populations and existing boundaries. The House and Senate commissions would get larger but still require a 7/10ths vote to approve a redistricting map. That threshold means the most likely outcome is that appellate judges would determine the state legislative outlines in the 2021 redistricting. That could be problematic, as evidenced by a 2011 Senate map created by that process that was then struck down for being unconstitutional.
There is no broad grassroots support for Amendment 3. It is a construct of lawmakers in opposition to action by the electorate. The effort to stop the anti-gerrymandering measure before it can even be tested is so transparent that even some prominent Missouri Republicans are speaking out against it. Notably, former U.S. Sen. John Danforth said, “I will vote no on the legislators’ gerrymandering amendment and encourage every Missouri voter to do the same. The integrity of Missouri’s democracy is at stake.”
We voters knew what we were doing when we passed Clean Missouri in 2018, but lawmakers think they know better. It is time to remind legislators that the ultimate authority lies with the people they are supposed to represent.
We can do that by voting no on Amendment 3.