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Missouri approves Amendment 3, changing redistricting process yet again

After months of controversy and contention across party lines, Missourians voted to approve Amendment 3, effectively turning back redistricting changes made by Clean Missouri in 2018. 

More than 1.3 million Missourians voted in favor of the ballot measure, according to the Secretary of State’s Office early Wednesday morning. 

The ballot language asked voters if they wished to eliminate lobbyist gifts to lawmakers, reducing the maximum contribution to state Senate races by just $100.  

The proposition also sought to replace the nonpartisan state demographer, a position established by Clean Missouri to redraw the state’s legislative districts based on Census data. The redistricting process would now fall to two bipartisan commissions appointed by the governor, one representing each chamber. 

The original language for the amendment was scrapped and replaced by a judge in August who called the language “misleading, unfair, and insufficient” in her judgment. The amendment was redrafted to clarify that the 2018 measure would be effectively repealed. The original language was found on ballots sent to two counties the following month. 

“We are of course very disappointed that the politicians’ lies and deception appear to have been effective enough to pass Amendment 3. Thousands of volunteers from across the state and across the political spectrum have been working for years to pass and then defend fair redistricting rules in our constitution, and today we came up short,” the Clean Missouri campaign said in a statement. “Nevertheless, we are committed to ensuring as fair an outcome as possible when new maps are drawn in 2021. Amendment 3 was written to allow for truly radical gerrymandering, but it does not require it. The broad, bipartisan coalition that passed the Clean Missouri Amendment will be active and engaged in the 2021 redistricting process to ensure that voters and communities come first in new maps, not politicians.”

The proposition dominated political discussion leading up to Election Day, with opponents arguing that Missouri had already voted for Clean Missouri and the provisions on lobbying and campaign contributions were a distraction from the redistricting reform. 

Even celebrities spoke out against the proposed amendment; Oscar-winning actress Jennifer Lawrence and talk show host Andy Cohen both released videos urging Missourians to reject the ballot measure last month.

In a debate on this week’s episode of “This Week in Missouri Politics” between Missouri Farm Bureau President Balke Hurst and Rep. Tracy McCreery, McCreery said the new proposition would undo what Clean Missouri had been approved for. 

“In 2018, Missouri voters of all political stripes overwhelmingly supported Clean Missouri,” McCreery said. “What Amendment 3 is going to do if it would pass is undo all of the things that Missourians share as Missouri values. Missouri values support fairness, competitiveness, and transparency, and that’s what Clean Missouri did.”

Republicans voiced their support of the amendment, with many arguing the amendment would revert the redistricting process to a system that had worked in previous years. 

“The people of Missouri were loud and clear today in rejecting out-of-state meddling in our elections. Amendment 3 will continue to keep our communities whole in next year’s redistricting process,” Hurst said early Wednesday morning. “We were outspent more than 150-to-1, but this result shows that the power of grassroots politics can still overcome the influence of huge donors. We appreciate all of the support from the Missourians who joined us in this guerrilla campaign on behalf of the people of our state.”

Sen. Dan Hegeman, who sponsored the measure during its passage through the legislature, said the amendment would allow voters “another opportunity to weigh in on this monumental change that could have ramifications for years, if not generations” early in the legislative process.