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Suburban interests dominate Judicial Redistricting Commission state Senate map

  

The Judicial Redistricting Commission released its tentative redistricting plan and map for the Missouri Senate Monday. The map shifted the balance of influence toward an emphasis in assisting more suburban senators and away from rural senators. 

The shift in Missouri’s population to places such as Greene, Platte, Boone, Clay, and St. Charles Counties necessitated a further shift of senate districts. 

The map is available at www.oa.mo.gov/budget-planning/redistricting-office. The final map will be filed with the Secretary of State on March 15, 2022.

Per the Missouri Constitution, every ten years after the census Missouri must redraw its legislative districts. Commissions take the first crack at redrawing the districts, but if they are unable to reach a bipartisan agreement members of Missouri’s appellate courts step in. 

In the previous map there were 20 republican districts, five democratic districts, and nine were competitive races were ran at some point. Of those nine five were reliably republican and four reliably democratic but all nine had least mildly competitive races in them over the last ten years. 

The new map includes nineteen republican districts, eight reliably democratic districts, and seven districts where competitive races could be waged. 

However, larger changes were in for how the twenty republican districts are likely to be represented. The 21st and 31st districts are now pretty heavily weighted with suburban voters. The 10th district now has a large number of suburban voters in Wentzville and Lincoln County. The 19th will be more urban and suburban because Boone County has reached a large enough population that it cannot take in another county. 

The map came as a surprise to some because the six member commission is made up of two from each of the appellate districts. With half of the judges from rural Missouri.  

“The Judicial Redistricting Commission deeply appreciates the input provided by citizens during our public hearing and through the website,” Judge Cynthia L. Martin, commission chair, said. “That input was thoughtfully considered, subject to the requirements of the Missouri Constitution that Senate districts be established using methods and criteria in an order of priority.”

Those criteria include: dividing population as equally as practicable, avoiding the denial or abridgment of the right to vote on account of race or color, creating districts that are as contiguous and compact as practicable, respecting political subdivision lines to the extent possible; and achieving calculable standards for partisan fairness and competitiveness.

“The Judicial Redistricting Commission’s work has been thorough and labor intensive, and was purposefully undertaken with the goal to file a constitutionally compliant plan and map well in advance of the commission’s constitutional deadline to avoid disenfranchising voters given the candidate filing deadline and the deadline for preparing ballots,” Martin said.

In addition to Martin, the members are Judge Thomas N. Chapman also of the Western District, Judge Michael E. Gardner and Judge Angela Turner Quigless from the Eastern District, and Judge Gary W. Lynch Judge and Judge Mary W. Sheffield from the Southern District.