From the Kirksville Daily Express, printed in October 2016 (no longer available online):
We had a report in our Oct. 27 edition (“The House’s fresh face already taking shape”) that detailed something that’s been happening for a long time, and something that needs to stop.
Those in power want to keep their party in power and one of the ways they do that is by redrawing legislative districts in such ways that the registered voters within overwhelmingly favor one party.
If you don’t think that’s the casein Missouri, I highly suggest looking at a map. Google” Missouri congressional district map” and follow along. See how District 6, represented by our very own Congressman Sam Graves, reaches across the entire top half of the state, but then randomly slices downward and through the Kansas City suburbs, nearly bisecting District 5, which wraps around? You could jump in a car in Lee’s Summit and be in District 5, drive in a straight line to the east and enter District 6 for a spell before returning to District 5. Huh? The same goes for District’s 4 and 7, which have a strange relationship in the Springfield area. And District 3, which extends into parts of Camden County (southwest of Jefferson City) also wraps around the St. Louis suburbs.
For the Missouri Legislature, while the maps themselves aren’t as obvious, the districts were redrawn to make for less competitive elections. It’s not a coincidence that many officials are unchallenged for re-election. When you start at a 20-point disadvantage, why bother running? Some will argue that Missouri is a conservative state, so it doesn’t matter. Republicans represent Missouri in six of its eight U. S. congressional districts and the GOP holds historic super majorities in both the state House and Senate.
But statewide elections indicate a much different story. While Missouri has lost its “bellweather” status (and along with it much influence in Washington), our statewide offices show a much more evenly divided electorate. We currently have one Democrat and one Republican in the U. S. Senate, and that Republican is in the fight for his life against a Democrat, who currently holds the office of Missouri Secretary of State.
The two-term governor of this state is a Democrat.
Whoever replaces him will likely win by a very slim margin, and one of those candidates is the state’s attorney general – a Democrat.
The state’s treasurer, too, is a Democrat. In fact, out of the six state government offices, only two (lieutenant governor and auditor) were won by Republicans in the last cycle.
All of this is to say that Missouri’s representation doesn’t seem to reflect the diversity of its voters. As we move toward the next Census in 2020 and subsequent redistricting, more attention should be paid to the process with this reality in mind.
It’s time for a change.
Here are the facts – The Clean Missouri amendment will:
- lower campaign contribution limits for state legislative candidates
- eliminate almost all lobbyist gifts
- require politicians wait two years before becoming lobbyists
- require that legislative records be open to the public
- ensure that neither political party is given an unfair advantage when new maps are drawn after the next census, by asking a nonpartisan expert to draw fair legislative district maps, which would then be reviewed by a citizen commission