LWVMO Testifying on Redistricting

Joan Hubbard, LWV member from Metro St. Louis, represented LWVMO at the Senate Redistricting Commission’s first public hearing in St. Louis. She recognized the “once-a-decade impact that redistricting has on the power of voters and on the vitality of democracy in our state.” 

Hubbard said, “In all 50 states, the League stresses that honorable redistricting requires fairness, accuracy, transparency and maximum public participation and input.” She encouraged commissioners to draw maps in a transparent way and allow ample time for analysis and public comments.

Share Input at Redistricting Hearings

Redistricting has a major impact on many aspects of our lives: education, healthcare, the environment and, most importantly, the voices of the people. New House and Senate district maps will shape our lives and our communities for the next 10 years. Fair maps are more likely to be achieved when the public is actively involved in the process. Here’s the schedule of public hearings for Missouri’s legislative redistricting commissions.

  • St. Louis: Saturday, October 16 Senate Commission Hearing and Thursday, October 21, House Commission Hearing, both at 10 am at the Renaissance St. Louis Airport Hotel
  • Springfield: Monday, October 18 House Commission hearing at 9 am, 18 Senate Commission Hearing at 1 pm, both at University Plaza Hotel & Convention Center
  • Kansas City: Tuesday, October 19 House Commission hearing at 9 am, Senate Commission Hearing at 1 pm, both at Kansas City Marriott Downtown (Note: parking can be validated)
  • Jefferson CityThursday, Nov. 4, House Commission hearing in the Jefferson Building, 205 Jefferson St., time TBD
  • Cape Girardeau: Tuesday, Nov. 9,  House Commission hearing at 10 am, Drury Plaza
  • KirksvilleNov. 10,  House Commission hearing at 10 am, location TBD

The League is asking for transparency in the process of drawing new House and Senate district maps. Click here or on the People Powered Maps image at right to see the list of commissioners. Contact Executive Director Jean Dugan at duganlwv@gmail.com or 314-961-6869 if you have any questions about testifying at these public hearings. To submit written testimony, go to https://oa.mo.gov/budget-planning/redistricting-office/public-testimony.

The commissions have until Dec. 23 to submit a tentative plan for both chambers with the Secretary of State’s Office and will then have until Jan. 23 to finalize their work. If the bipartisan panels cannot reach an agreement, it goes to a judicial panel. Those judges will have access to the testimony gathered at the Senate and House Redistricting Commission hearings.

McLeod explained the redistricting process recently on the “Radio Friends with Paul Pepper” program. Watch the video at https://youtu.be/z0958wB6NNA. Click here for LWVMO’s position or here for an explanation of the difference between redistricting and gerrymandering from the ACLU.

League Supports Freedom to Vote Act

Introduced on Sept. 13, the Freedom to Vote Act (S2747) improves access to the ballot for Americans, advances commonsense election integrity reforms, and protects our democracy from emerging threats. This bill includes many provisions of the For the People Act (HR1/S1) but reflects feedback from state and local election officials to ensure that the people responsible for implementing these reforms are able to do so effectively.

This federal legislation also elevates the voices of all Americans by curbing partisan gerrymandering and rooting out the undue influence of special interest money in our politics. Click here for an LWVMO Fact Sheet.

Hot Topics at Nov. 13 Fall Conference

LWVMO will host our annual Fall Conference on Saturday, Nov. 13, at State Fair Community College in Sedalia. The conference will be from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Our theme for 2021 is Hot Topics! Plans are underway to include the following topics:

Hot Topics in the Past:

  • Examine the timeline of voter ID legislation
  • Celebrating Missouri’s 200th Anniversary with a presentation on Women’s Clothing and the Suffragists by Nicole Johnston from the Missouri Historical Society

Hot Topics in the Present:

  • Update on Legislative and Congressional Redistricting in MO
  • Paid Leave – State Study presentation by LWV KC/Jackson/Clay/Platte Counties
  • Update on activities by local League presidents

Hot Topics for the Future:

  • Interactive discussion of common issues for urban and rural voters to set LWVMO legislative priorities for 2022
  • Report on 2022 voting legislation by Rep. Peggy McGaugh (R), a former county clerk currently serving on the Missouri House Elections Committee
  • How to effectively communicate with legislators

This is a great time to meet League members from all 10 local Leagues. Lunch will be provided for those attending in person. Registration is $25 for in person attendance and $15 for virtual attendance. Click here for the registration form.

For those attending in person, LWV merchandise will be available for purchase!

In-Person Registration ($25)

Zoom Registration ($15)

Support Federal Voting Rights Legislation

President Lyndon Johnson signed the original Voting Rights Act in 1965. Republican Presidents Ronald Reagan signed the Voting Rights Act in 1982 and George W. Bush signed its 2006 reauthorization. Click here for a fact sheet on the John R. Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act that passed the House in August.

The  the Freedom to Vote Act (S2747) includes many provisions of the For the People Act (HR1/S1) but reflects feedback from state and local election officials to ensure that the people responsible for implementing these reforms are able to do so effectively. It would improve access to the ballot for Americans, advances commonsense election integrity reforms, and protects our democracy from emerging threats. This federal legislation also elevates the voices of all Americans by curbing partisan gerrymandering and rooting out the undue influence of special interest money in our politics. Click here for an LWVMO Fact Sheet.

The For the People Ac (HR1/S1) was the first bill introduced in both houses of the 117th Congress to support free, fair and accessible elections and voters’ rights. The House approved HR1 on March 4, but a filibuster blocked action in the Senate. 


No Need to Limit the Petition Process or Increase Election Security

“The League of Women Voters of Missouri believes every citizen should have a voice in our government,” LWVMO President Marilyn McLeod said in an August 24 House Elections Committee hearing. “We do not see any need for legislation to limit the petition process in Missouri or increase election security. This committee should look for ways to increase voter participation, not limit it.”

Stressing the League’s support for increasing voter turn-out and the security of mail-in ballots used in the 2020 elections, McLeod called on the committee to move to no-excuse absentee ballots. Chair Don Shaul said the state won’t go back to mail-in voting. He asked if the League would support a photo ID requirement for no-excuse absentee ballots. McLeod said the League supports the current voter identification options.

In her testimony, McLeod encouraged the state to use federal money to help county clerks and other election authorities update voting equipment and make it easier for all eligible voters to cast their ballots securely.

State Must Expand Medicaid

League members advocated for Medicaid expansion in Jefferson City and across the state.
Pictured are Victoria Turner, Angie Dunlap, Mary Pat Robben and Gloria Garidel at a June rally in St. Louis.

The Missouri Supreme Court just unanimously agreed that Medicaid Expansion is the law of the land, upholding the constitutional amendment voters approved in August 2020 against budget challenges.

“It has been almost a decade since Missouri Health Care for All started fighting to make Medicaid expansion a reality. Today, we are excited to see Missouri cross the finish line and bring health care to 275,000 people,” Drew Noblot and Sarah Willey, Missouri Health Care for All interim co-executive directors said in a statement.

Since 2014, by not expanding Medicaid, Missouri has turned away over $15.5 billion which could have been used to improve our health care. The Center for Health Economics and Policy at Washington University conducted an analysis and concluded that Missouri Medicaid Expansion is budget neutral with possible savings of $39 million. Other independent studies have shown cost savings could reach $1 billion per year by 2026.

Women Power Democracy

Women Power Democracy is the League’s four-pronged approach to building trust in our elections, growing our electorate, creating fair voter access, and ensuring community districting reflects our population. Its components are: 

  • Democracy Truth Project: Countering mis- and disinformation in our government and advancing public understanding of the democratic process;
  • Expand the Franchise: Increasing voter participation, with a focus on underrepresented populations and low-propensity voters;
  • Democracy Defense Fund: Protecting voting rights and advancing a more equitable democracy through advocacy and voter protection efforts; and 
  • People Powered Fair Maps™: Leading with advocacy, public education, and organizing to create transparent, people-powered electoral maps and eliminate gerrymandering during 2021 redistricting. 

Mary Merritt Bench Dedicated

Sedalia Mayor Tom Kehde dedicated a bench in honor of Mary Merritt by the fountain in front of city hall on July 2. It was made by welding students at State Fair College and paid for by donations to the LWVMO Education Fund. Pictured are Debby Howard, Elaine Blodgett, Evelyn Maddox (front row) Jean Dugan, Kathleen Farrell, Nancy Thompson, Carol Portman, Linda McDaniel, Carol Schreiber, Kathleen Boswell and Donna Hoch (back row).

LWVUS President Keynotes 65th State Convention

LWVMO held its 65th annual convention on Saturday, May 15, on Zoom. The convention speaker was Dr. Deborah Turner, President of LWVUS. In inspirational remarks, she stressed that the League’s non-partisanship is the bedrock of the organization. “Wanting every eligible voter to have equal access to the ballot box is not partisan. Wanting a robust democracy in which everyone has an equal voice and equal representation is not partisan. Wanting to see more elected officials that reflect the diverse makeup of our country is not partisan – it is American.”

“I know that you have not been deterred in your efforts to create a more perfect democracy in Missouri,” Turner said. “You fought hard to protect clean elections and fair maps in your state, and although you did not get the result you wanted with Amendment 3 in the last election, I have every confidence in your ability to keep up the good fight. At national, we are here to partner with you to continue moving the dial on fair maps, voting rights, social justice, and democracy.”

Dr. Turner stressed the continued mission of empowering voters and defending democracy. She commended the Missouri League for registering and educating thousands of voters in 2020. Click here to watch her keynote address to the convention.

The convention elected Marilyn McLeod from Columbia as President. Other new officers are Louise Wilkerson from Metro St. Louis as Vice President, Kathleen Boswell from Sedalia as Secretary, and Diane Suhler from Columbia as Treasurer. Joining the board are Joan Hubbard, Anne Sappington, and Catherine Stenger from Metro St. Louis and Jill Smull and Julie Steiger from Southwest Missouri.