On November 3, Missouri voters will have the final say in how state legislative districts will be drawn.
Amendment 3 asks Missouri voters three questions:
- Whether most lobbyist gifts to legislators should be banned;
- Whether campaign contribution limits should be lowered; and
- Whether re-districting after the decennial census should be conducted with partisan interests or compact districts as the main goal.
The third question is most important, as it asks Missouri voters to decide how their new legislative districts should be drawn.
Amendment 3 is a response to Amendment 1, which voters approved in 2018. That measure also asked voters to decide on lobbyist gift bans, campaign contribution limits, and redistricting of legislative districts, among other issues.
At the time, Missouri Chamber of Commerce and Industry sounded the alarm against Amendment 1 as the measure’s redistricting plan appeared to be designed to diminish or wipe out the General Assembly’s pro-business majority — that has helped pass numerous meaningful reforms in recent years. Amendment 1’s implementation would lead to as many districts as close to 50/50 in partisan representation as possible, disregarding the need to keep communities of interest together. The Missouri Chamber also challenged Amendment 1 in court.
Unfortunately, the court ruled that Amendment 1 could stay on the ballot, and voters ultimately passed the measure.
The victory of Amendment 1 was possible because millions of out-of-state dollars poured into Missouri to fund a massive marketing campaign that disguised the true nature of Amendment 1. Indeed, the pro-Amendment 1 ads from 2018 focused heavily on lowering campaign contribution limits and eliminating “fancy gifts” — but barely mentioned redistricting. Again in 2020, the same special interests are funneling millions into Missouri from out of state to defend their re-districting scheme.
The redistricting debate comes down to two important details: who draws the maps and how those maps are drawn.
Amendment 3 would remove the “non-partisan” state demographer from the process and return solely to a bipartisan commission appointed by the governor. If Amendment 3 passes, the demographer is removed from the equation and the bipartisan commission draws the maps.
Most importantly, Amendment 3 corrects the fatal error of Amendment 1 – the order of priority of various methods to be relied upon in drawing state legislative districts.
Amendment 1 starts with laudable parameters for drawing new districts: total population and compliance with the U.S. Constitution and federal laws, including the Voting Rights Act. But then, Amendment 1 takes a wild divergence from redistricting norms:
“Districts shall be designed in a manner that achieves both partisan fairness and, secondarily, competitiveness.”
This sounds like an appropriate addition to the redistricting process until one realizes how this drastically changes the process.
Amendment 3 restores common sense by ensuring that, before partisan politics can be considered, districts must be drawn to be compact and contiguous. The very simple principle of local representation would be restored and protected by Amendment 3.
If Amendment 1 remains the law of the land, maps will be drawn with a focus on partisan politics and protecting party insiders, ahead of keeping communities of interest together in House and Senate districts.
Instead of having a legislator who goes to your church, sends his or her kids to your school, or understands your rural, suburban, or urban values and ideals, you will likely be represented by a lawmaker from a different part of the state.
With only weeks to go until the election, the Missouri Chamber wanted to share our perspective on Amendment 3. However, many political experts believe Amendment 3 faces long odds on Nov. 3.
Again, supporters of the 2018 ballot measure have raised millions of dollars to support a massive marketing effort in the state to turn voters against Amendment 3, with much of their money coming from out-of-state sources.
In face of this, it is important that supporters of Amendment 3 speak up. Supporters should share with their communities why voters should protect our redistricting process and how Amendment 3 achieves this.
We encourage all of our members and all Missourians to continue to educate themselves about the candidates and ballot measures ahead of this November’s election.
Feel free to contact us if you have any questions.