League leaders Sharon Schneeberger, Barbara Hoppe, Marilyn McLead and Nancy Copenhaver gave strong testimony at the House Redistricting hearing in Jefferson City. They stressed the need for fair legislative district maps that recognize and honor communities, keeping them together whenever possible.
“The League has long taken great interest in the redistricting process,” says LWVMO President Marilyn McLeod said. “For decades, our nonpartisan organization has fought for fair and effective representation of our government. Fair maps give citizens a voice in their government. Maps based on total population are key to getting state and federal funding distributed equitably.”
LWVMO’s Fair Redistricting Committee submitted a report and non-partisan maps developed for the League by academics at the University of Illinois’ Institute of Computational Redistricting (ICOR) to the portals for both the House and Senate Redistricting Commissions.
LWVMO Nonpartisan State Senate Plans prepared by ICOR:
LWVMO Nonpartisan State House plans prepared by ICOR:
Schneeberger told commissioners, “We look forward to seeing fairly drawn districts in your draft maps and trust you will give Missouri citizens time to analyze and understand them.”
Each commission was challenged to submit a tentative redistricting plan to the secretary of state’s office by the Dec. 22 deadline. Draft legislative district maps are available for citizens to review at https://oa.mo.gov/budget-planning/redistricting-office. If either bipartisan commission fails to agree on a plan, redistricting for that legislative chamber goes to a panel of judges.
LWVMO members praised the excellent material presented at the 2021 Fall Conference on Saturday, Nov. 13. The theme was Hot Topics: Past, Present and Future.
- Legislative outlook by Boone County Clerk Brianna Lennon
- Suffrage to Statecraft. A Closer Look at Dress of Missouri Suffragists and Trailblazing Stateswomen from the MHCTC Exhibition by Nicole Johnston, Curator, Missouri Historic Costume and Textile Collection, University of Missouri
- Update on Legislative and Congressional Redistricting in MO by Sharon Schneeberger
- Paid Leave – State Study presentation by Alice Kitchen, LWV KC/Jackson/Clay/Platte Counties
- DEI presentation “Our Changing Communities”by Tina Weaver, Executive Director of the North Kansas City YMCA
- The Legislature, Courts and Voters presentation by Evelyn Maddox and Donna Hoch
- Interactive discussion of common issues for urban and rural voters to set LWVMO legislative priorities for 2022
- How to effectively communicate with legislators by Liz Zerr, MNEA
- Update on activities by local League presidents
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.
Several League members testified at eight of the nine redistricting commission hearings, 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.
McLeod explained the redistricting process 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.
Former President Evelyn Maddox told redistricting commissioners why they must use total population to ensure fair and just maps for Missouri at public hearings on Oct. 19. “If legislative district maps are based only on citizens of voting age, at least 22 percent of Missourians would lose representation in the General Assembly.”
“New district maps that are approved will be in place for the next decade,” Maddox testified. “A lot of changes will occur in the next 10 years, including current teenagers becoming eligible to vote, and refugees and other immigrants gaining citizenship and the right to vote. Are they to be denied their representation after becoming voters?”
Mary Lindsay, Anne Calvert and Sarah Starnes also testified at the Kansas City hearing, stressing the need for maps that are fair to everybody. Lindsay said, “We urge commissioners to draw House legislative districts which ensure that racial and language minorities share proportionally in the political process…. Innovative technology could ascertain evidence of partisan unfairness and signs of gerrymandering of districts through cracking and packing of communities.”
Joan Hubbard, LWV member from Metro St. Louis, represented LWVMO at recent House and Senate Redistricting Commission hearings 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. Click here for video of some of her testimony.
Several other League members testified, including Nancy Price, Angie Dunlap, Steve Skrainka, Nancy Thompson, Stefany Brot and Don Crozier.
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.
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 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.
“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.
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 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.