Citizens’ challenge politicians’ deceptive ballot summary for Amendment 3

Cole County Circuit Judge Patricia S. Joyce will hear arguments this Friday, August 7 at 10:30 a.m. for a citizens’ challenge to dishonest and misleading ballot language written by politicians for their Amendment 3 gerrymandering plan.

The ballot summary for Amendment 3 sent to voters, as contained in Senate Joint Resolution 38 (SJR38), contains false assertions, misleading language, and conspicuous omissions intended to  mislead voters about the substance of the proposed amendment.

Specifically:

  • The politicians’ deceptive summary for Amendment 3 says it will “create” redistricting commissions, and that the commissions would be “independent.” Both of these claims are false.
    • Legislators’ own documents acknowledge that Amendment 3 simply renames already-existing commissions. Under the fair process approved by voters in 2018, the nonpartisan state demographer is tasked with crafting draft plans, which are then reviewed and may be modified by already-existing commissions.
    • Amendment 3 would remove the independent check on partisan influence from the voter-approved fair map rules, and give “all redistricting responsibility” to commissions made up of partisan appointees.
    • Amendment 3 would even give the state political parties new powers for selecting commissioners, and increase the number of partisan map-drawers in the process. Under the Amendment 3 plan, the Senate Commission would double in size, and the House Commission would also grow in size.
  • The politicians’ deceptive summary for Amendment 3 asserts that future maps would be fair, competitive and protect voters of color, without informing voters that their proposed plan weakens current voter-approved rules on all three of these criteria.
    • The third bullet of the ballot summary language written by politicians states that future maps will be based on “minority voter protection, compactness, competitiveness, fairness.” Compactness is already a current constitutional requirement for state legislative maps, and Amendment 3 would objectively weaken voter-approved rules to protect voters of color, encourage competitiveness, and ensure fairness.
    • The fine print of Amendment 3 would allow the most extreme partisan  gerrymander of any state legislative plan in the past four decades.
    • The passage of Amendment 1 in 2018 made Missouri a national leader in redistricting protections for communities of color; the politicians’ plan weakens the existing standard.
  • Politicians claim their plan will “ban all lobbyist gifts.” This is false.
    • Politicians are proposing a $5 reduction to lobbyist gift limits as a smokescreen for their redistricting scheme, but their amendment includes exemptions for ways legislators would still be able to accept gifts from lobbyists.
  • Politicians wrote overly broad and misleading language to summarize their proposed $100 change to the contribution limit for state senate candidates.
    • The ballot language in SJR38 says the amendment would “[r]educe legislative campaign contribution limits”; however, the text of SJR38 would only change a single limit — the limit for state senate candidates — and their proposed change is a reduction of only $100.

Plaintiffs in the case are citizens from across Missouri who helped collect some of the more than 330,000 signatures that put the Clean Missouri initiative petition on the November 2018 ballot. A copy of the petition filed against the Amendment 3 ballot summary may be found below.