Missouri legislators are asking that voters give approval to Amendment 3. This new amendment allows politicians to scrap Clean Missouri, the redistricting amendment to the Missouri Constitution that voters approved by more than 62% in 2018.

Legislators now want to take undoing Clean Missouri a step further by not counting our children in Missouri’s legislative districts. Amendment 3 asks us to approve counting only residents who are currently in the voting-age population when drawing up legislative districts.

Amendment 3 states: “Districts shall be drawn on the basis of one person, one vote.” This simple addition to the amendment has major consequences. As intended, it gives the prevailing political party even more power to manipulate the legislative boundaries to favor themselves, a process known as gerrymandering. It also removes power from communities where more children reside.

Amendment 3 ballot language states the economic impact: “Individual local governmental entities expect significant decreased revenues of a total unknown amount.”

The reason this will be a blow to local governments throughout the state is explained by the Missouri National Education Association: “Accurate population counts are used by school districts, municipal boards and states to determine funding priorities and allocate necessary resources for schools, libraries, transportation and other public programs and services. If legislative district maps are drawn based on incomplete counts, then all individuals living in those districts will suffer.”

As soon as Clean Missouri passed in 2018, the Republican-led Legislature vowed to make undoing the will of Missouri voters its top priority. Toward that end, legislators wrote ballot language for the November 2020 election with no mention of repealing the amendment previously passed by voters.

Two Missouri courts ruled that the wording of Amendment 3, by now dubbed “Dirty Missouri” by some, must reflect the intent of the proposal. Here is the wording that will appear on your ballot:

“Shall the Missouri Constitution be amended to: Change the redistricting process voters approved in 2018 by (i) transferring responsibility for drawing state legislative districts from the nonpartisan State Demographer to governor-appointed bipartisan commissions; (ii) modifying and reordering the redistricting criteria.”

The “nonpartisan State Demographer” is the key to limiting the ability of the party in power to gerrymander districts. That is the part of Clean Missouri that the Republican Legislature is desperate to undo.

“Modifying and reordering the redistricting criteria” is how they are describing their plan to not count our children.

Voters will find two additional Amendment 3 items listed on their ballots:

“Ban gifts from paid lobbyists to legislators and their employees.”

This item reduces the dollar amount of gifts from $5 to $0.

“Reduce legislative campaign contribution limits.”

This item reduces campaign contributions by $100.

Legislators don’t care about $5 lobbyist gifts or $100 in campaign contributions. But they are passionate about maintaining their ability to gerrymander legislative districts following the 2020 census to favor their own political party.

To achieve their ends, legislators want to amend the Missouri Constitution to exclude our children. Don’t let them get by with it. Vote “no” on Amendment 3.

Susanna Smith lives in Neosho.

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