Redistricting battle

The outcome of Amendment 3 will help determine the power structure in the Legislature from 2022 to 2032.

Critics of Amendment 3 often say that the legislative redistricting measure would create partisan protection maps.

These critics are correct. But if you agree with this, then you have to ask yourself what is the alternative, because partisan protection could be interpreted as maps that reflect the values of those who live on your street or in your hometown.

The opposite is something unnatural and engineered for a specific purpose. With regard to Amendment 3, what’s at stake is whether future voters will get a chance to choose candidates who live close to home and have an ear to local concerns, or whether maps will be redrawn and manipulated for a higher purpose as dictated by a mathematical formula and well-funded, out-of-state interests with ties to left-leaning causes.

The origins of the debate go back to legislative inaction on ethics reforms to limit the influence of paid lobbyists and campaign contributors in state politics. In 2018, a citizen-driven constitutional amendment sought to end the impasse and put these popular measures in front of voters.

The Clean Missouri measure did just that, but there was a poisoned pill wrapped inside the candy. The 2018 measure made radical changes to the way that legislative boundaries are drawn in Missouri. Previously, the governor appointed a bipartisan commission for this task.

Under Clean Missouri, that ultimate power is handed to a single, unelected demographer vetted by the state’s only Democratic officeholder. Instead of the past practice of making sure districts are contiguous and compact, the 2018 Clean Missouri system requires these districts must be twisted for partisan fairness.

That means, if you live in Rock Port or Maysville, someone will have to draw an oddly shaped district that includes enough Democrats to make it competitive. That means a long, thin strip that extends to someplace like St. Joseph or Kansas City.

Amendment 3 reverses these ill-advised redistricting changes and goes back to something that’s similar to the previous bipartisan commission. There is never going to be a perfect system, but at least Amendment 3 puts the emphasis on the wisdom of crowds — that means large, bipartisan commissions — rather than the person that Nicole Galloway picks to tell you who you get to vote for.

Opponents of Amendment 3 say the measure will increase gerrymandering. Their evidence? Because they say it will increase gerrymandering. It’s hard to tell if they are lying or they’ve convinced themselves, but in reality it’s the rejection of Amendment 3 that leads to gerrymandering. How do you achieve partisan fairness in rural Missouri without it?

Voters need to approve Amendment 3 to avoid a spider web of legislative districts that benefits political operatives instead of local communities.