Fight for Fair Maps Intensifies
The Missouri House gave final approval to SJR38 on May 13 to ask voters to replace Clean Missouri’s redistricting reforms with a system that allows unprecedented racial and partisan gerrymandering.
Voters approved Clean Missouri in 2018 to ensure that neither political party gets an unfair advantage when district maps are drawn. Hidden in SJR38 is language that could make Missouri the only state not using total population to draw maps after the 2020 Census.
“This gerrymandering plan gives political parties more power and opens the door to a process that doesn’t count anyone under age 18 or non-citizens when drawing legislative district maps,” says LWVMO President Evelyn Maddox. “They deserve representation and services just as much as registered voters.”
In written testimony for a public hearing while the state was under a stay-at-home order, Maddox said, “These are unprecedented times, but please do not support this effort to allow unprecedented racial and partisan gerrymandering in Missouri. We want fair maps to protect Missouri voters and make sure each vote counts.”
LWVMO Secretary Louise Wilkerson said, “Instead of improving our redistricting process after the 2020 Census, SJR38 would give political parties more power and allow an unprecedented level of racial and political gerrymandering.”
The Missouri Senate approved SJR38 on Feb. 10. The proposed changes to the redistricting process will be on the November ballot unless Governor Mike Parson decides to put it on the August ballot. The measure would also eliminate lobbyist gifts that Clean Missouri capped to $5 and lowers the limit on contributes to Senate candidates by $100.
For more on the total population issue, see this May 22 guest column in the St. Louis Dispatch by Nancy J. Miller and Louise T. Wilkerson: Keep clean redistricting process that counts kids.
For more on protections for communities of color in Clean Missouri, see this guest column in the St. Louis American by Louise Wilkerson and John Bowman, President of the St. Louis County NAACP.