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Opinion: Amendment 3 is a necessary fix. Vote YES.

  

Lately, our TV sets and mailboxes have been flooded with misleading messages, painting a picture of boogeyman politicians trying to trick Missourians into voting against their own interests with Amendment 3. Let’s get the facts straight.

In 2018, Missourians passed the “Clean Missouri” Amendment which did many things and was financed by incredible amounts of money from out-of-state millionaires and interest groups. As opponents accuse the authors of Amendment 3 of doing, the authors of “Clean Missouri” buried redistricting reform underneath more popular measures like campaign finance limits and lobbying reform. Hidden deep in the redistricting components of “Clean Missouri” was a constitutional mandate for districts to be gerrymandered to achieve a particular partisan outcome — namely, that each district must contain a roughly equal number of Republicans and Democrats — with regard for existing communities taking a lower priority.

In theory, that sounds fair. The problem is, Missouri communities aren’t comprised of an equal number of Republicans and Democrats. In 2018, 61 percent of Nodaway Countians voted for Republican Josh Hawley for U.S. Senate while 79 percent of voters in Kansas City cast their ballots for Democratic incumbent Claire McCaskill. To achieve the 50-50 partisan outcome voters were tricked into passing in 2018, heavily Republican communities like Nodaway County and heavily Democratic communities like Kansas City would be broken up and forced to share districts with distant areas that face different issues and have different values.

In fact, the Missouri Republican Party hired a demographer to draw lines based on the “Clean Missouri” criteria to see what it might look like. The results were disturbing. One district in Nodaway County would stretch along highways to connect Maryville with Savannah and part of Saint Joseph like a string of pearls. The other would make a giant loop around us, stretching north from Saint Joe through eastern Nodaway then going around Maryville before turning south and ending in Holt County. The result? All of Nodaway County could be represented by two people who live in Saint Joseph with representatives who don’t know the issues we face, aren’t familiar with our community, and don’t share our values.

Amendment 3 is a necessary fix that — contrary to the claims of opponents — does NOT reverse the will of the voters. It keeps and strengthens the popular ethics reform provisions of “Clean Missouri.” It even keeps the “partisan fairness” criteria that voters passed — the difference is, the desired partisan outcome would take a backseat to the requirement that communities be kept together.

By the way, that boogeyman “politician” has a name: It’s our own Sen. Dan Hegeman who authored Amendment 3 and has nothing to gain from its outcome. He’ll be termed out of both houses of the legislature by the time the new districts are drawn. I believe that, like myself, Sen. Hegeman and the bipartisan majority of legislators who passed SJR 38 to put Amendment 3 on the ballot were motivated by an honest belief that community togetherness is what’s best for the future of our state.

Nov. 3 is our only opportunity to fix the mistakes of 2018 before new districts are drawn in 2021. Let’s not mess it up. If you want a representative who lives in and cares about your community, vote YES on 3. If you want districts to be drawn by a commission composed of an equal number of Republicans and Democrats, rather than a single person with their own unchecked biases, vote YES on 3. If you want to stand up against out-of-state influences and partisan gerrymandering, vote YES on Amendment 3.