Partisan operatives in Missouri have introduced a several pieces of legislation designed to roll back key elements of the bipartisan Clean Missouri initiative, which passed with 62% support of Missouri voters in 2018. The Clean Missouri initiative included meaningful reforms to reduce the power of partisan politicians to choose their own voters, rather than voters choosing their politicians. The new plans put forth by Republican politicians in Missouri are a blatant attempt to create a new rigged way to gerrymander. The proposals will disproportionately silence the voices of youth and communities of color and strip communities of their fair share of resources.
“This plan seeks to undo the voters’ voice,” said Kathay Feng, National Redistricting Director at Common Cause. “Missouri voters sent a clear message against partisan gerrymandering to politicians in Jefferson City in 2018. Any attempt by partisan politicians to undo that progress flies in the face of the will of voters.”
Background on only counting citizens over 18 for redistricting purposes:
According to a new report by The Kansas City Star, nearly all of the new Republican redistricting proposals include language that could dramatically change the way legislative districts are drawn in Missouri, moving from including all people to only citizens over 18. As Common Cause’s recent report, Whitewashing Representation: How Using Citizenship Data to Gerrymander will Undermine our Democracy, explains, this is part of a broader radical effort by partisan operatives to undermine representation in our democracy.
In 2019, Common Cause gained access to the files of Dr. Thomas Hofeller, the Republican gerrymandering strategist behind many of the most controversial gerrymandered maps, in a lawsuit challenging North Carolina’s partisan gerrymander. Hofeller wrote that counting only citizens over 18 for redistricting would “be advantageous to Republicans and Non-Hispanic Whites” and disadvantage people in urban areas, where populations are more diverse, according to the Hofeller files. He touted this as a “radical departure from the ‘one person, one vote’ rule” upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court for the past 60 years
“Who gets counted in determining representation is a crucial part in ensuring that communities get the resources they need,” said Keshia Morris Desir, Census Project Manager at Common Cause. “Representation determines questions like how many firetrucks, road repair projects, and playgrounds each community receives. When members of a community aren’t counted, everyone in that community loses out.”
“In our democracy, we believe everyone should have a voice. These politicians want to regain the power to gerrymander and, even worse, exclude our next generation of Americans,” said Feng. “Communities across the state are at risk of losing representation and their fair share of resources if Missouri partisan operatives succeed in subverting the will of Missouri voters and to draw electoral boundaries.”
Read the report here.
Read more about the Hofeller files here.