Sneaky Amendment 3 deserves defeat

News Tribune

Voters spoke on the issues of ethics reform and redistricting when they approved “Clean Missouri” two years ago. So why is Amendment 3 on Tuesday’s ballot? It’s because politicians did not accept the will of voters.

Politicians put Amendment 3 on the ballot, deceptively billing it as a reform measure. They’ll tell you that it limits lobbyists’ gifts to lawmakers, but they don’t say that it only limits lobbyists’ gifts by $5.

By far the most important part of the amendment deals with redistricting.

Supporters of Amendment 3 would like you to believe that having compact legislative districts outweighs a balance of representation of political parties.

But the amendment clearly is designed to protect the majority party. In other words, to favor incumbent politicians over the will of voters.

Clean Missouri was overwhelmingly approved in 2018 by a nearly two-to-one margin. Not a single senatorial district voted against it.

It added various ethics reforms to the Missouri Constitution, but the biggest change it made was in redistricting. It took the politics out of drawing legislative districts by taking the process out of the hands of politicians and giving the duty to a nonpartisan state demographer.

That person’s work would be balanced by a citizen commission review that would hold public hearings.

Many current lawmakers don’t want to give up the power of redistricting. Why would they? It has given them gerrymandered boundaries that are favorable to their re-election.

Amendment 3 is a last-ditch effort to keep the status quo before the provisions of Clean Missouri take effect.

Amendment 3 is opposed by a broad coalition of organizations. Even former U.S. Sen. Jack Danforth, a Republican, opposes it, saying: “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.”

Democrats and Republicans alike should shun Amendment 3. Depending on your political affiliation, your party could benefit or be hurt by its passage, at least in the short term. But it’s in the interest of all Missourians to defeat this deceitful measure.

Regardless of your politics, consider the big picture: Amendment 3 would twist the democratic process, taking power away from voters to determine who represents them.