Originally posted in the Marshfield Mail on March 30, 2019.
A landslide. That’s the only way to describe the outcome of the Clean Missouri ballot issue in November. It won 82 of the 116 counties in the state, including a majority of heavily Republican counties. It’s clear that the people of Missouri believe our state government needs to be more transparent, and that fairness and competition should be the foundation of our elections.
Now some lawmakers, including Governor Parson, are taking steps to overturn what the voters have said they want. Keep in mind: Amendment 1 is a change to our state’s Constitution, not merely a change to state law. A Constitutional amendment has never been reversed in our state.
Politicians seem to be disregarding the will of the people not on ideological grounds, but simply because Amendment 1 requires them to put ethics first, and to support a new way of drawing district maps that ensures fair and competitive races. About 90 percent of races under the current district maps have not been competitive.
Amendment 1 came to voters as a citizen-driven initiative because lawmakers were unwilling to make these changes themselves. Again and again, they voted down proposals to limit the influence of lobbyists were voted down. Over and over, incumbents and their parties depended on closed-door meetings to draw district maps. After the 2010 census, politicians, lobbyists and judges were the ones to draw the current maps. These maps protect incumbents and their parties.
Amendment 1 changes this. It prioritizes transparency and repairs the process of drawing election maps.
For decades, the League of Women Voters has fought for fair district maps and equal voting rights for all. We studied Clean Missouri’s proposal before it was put on the ballot. We supported Amendment 1 because it strengthens Missouri’s elected government. Like President Woodrow Wilson, we believe, “The ear of the leader must ring with the voices of the people.”Now we are adding our voice to the many who are asking lawmakers to remember: You are not self-employed. We sent you to Jefferson City. Please respect us.