National gerrymandering experts condemn House gerrymandering proposal

   

Press release

New House plan would gut constitutional requirements for fairness, transparency and independence in redistricting

JEFFERSON CITY – National experts on nonpartisan redistricting policy joined Missouri citizens in condemning the gerrymandering proposal moving in the Missouri House that would roll back reforms passed overwhelmingly by voters in 2018.

“Missouri politicians should listen to their voters, who supported fair maps by an almost 2-to-1 margin in November,” said Chris Lamar, legal counsel, redistricting, at Campaign Legal Center (CLC). “This stealth gerrymandering plan proposed by self-interested politicians would overturn the will of the people, making it harder to achieve the independent redistricting process voters sought when they passed Amendment 1.”

“HJR 48 is a big step backwards from the fair map reforms overwhelmingly passed by Missouri voters last November,” said Michael Li, Senior Counsel at the Brennan Center for Justice. “In place of the strong community-focused rules approved by voters, it would require splitting apart towns and cities and make partisan fairness subordinate to artificial and abstract notions of compactness. This is the exact opposite of good reform.”

New language for House Joint Resolution 48 was introduced and passed last week in committee without a thorough vetting or review. It would:

  • Overturn the will of 1.4 million Missourians who supported the Clean Missouri Amendment,
  • Allow lobbyists and partisan political appointees to gerrymander maps to advance their own interests,
  • Allow communities to be split up by political appointees in the name of ‘compact’ districts,
  • Eliminate the requirement that data used for map drafting be made open to the public, and
  • Remove the nonpartisan independence added to the state’s map-drawing process.

In November 2018, Missourians overwhelmingly supported a new, fair redistricting process that took away the influence of lobbyists and insiders when crafting new legislative maps. In its place, 1,469,093 voters enacted a new system with checks and balances to create districts where candidates will have to work hard to earn their votes, where lobbyists and political insiders can no longer rig the system, and to ensure that no political party gets an unfair advantage in any new maps.

Amendment 1 endorsements in 2018 included:
Action St. Louis
A. Philip Randolph Institute – St. Louis Chapter
Campaign Legal Center
Coalition of Black Trade Unionists
Common Cause
Communities Creating Opportunity
DEMOS
The League of Women Voters
Metropolitan Congregations United
Missouri AFL-CIO
Missouri Association of Trial Attorneys
Missouri Faith Voices
Missouri Jobs With Justice
Missouri NEA
MORE2
Organization for Black Struggle
NAACP Missouri State Conference
Service Employees International Union

Amendment 1 was also endorsed by Rev. Starsky Wilson, Rev. Dr. Rodney E. Williams, Rev. Dr. Cassandra Gould, Pastor Michael Brooks, Rev. Tex Sample, St. Louis Treasurer Tishaura Jones, the St. Louis American and Kansas City Call.