•Clean Missouri says Amendment 3 language harkens back to policy connected to Jim Crow South

Every ten years, using data compiled from the Census, states are required by law to redraw the lines for their congressional and state legislative districts to make sure the districts have equal populations. Since 1875, Missouri has counted every single person living in the state for redistricting. But some lawmakers who want that to change, successfully added Amendment 3 to the ballot with quite confusing language.

Amendment 3 asks:

Shall the Missouri Constitution be amended to:

• Ban gifts from paid lobbyists to legislators and their employees;

• Reduce legislative campaign contribution limits;

• Change the redistricting process voters approved in 2018 by:

(i) transferring responsibility for drawing state legislative districts from the Nonpartisan State Demographer to Governor-appointed bipartisan commissions; (ii) modifying and reordering the redistricting criteria.

State governmental entities expect no cost or savings. Individual local governmental entities expect significant decreased revenues of a total unknown amount.

Yes or No?

Clean Missouri, a statewide and bipartisan organization that campaigns for fair redistricting, says lawmakers are trying to deceive voters into voting “yes” based on the gift and contribution limits, but they say it’s really about changing redistricting.

In 2018, Missouri voters approved fair map redistricting reforms, making Missouri the first to require a nonpartisan demographer to draw the House and Senate districts using a mathematical formula. Clean Missouri says that a “yes” on Amendment 3 will reverse that vote and create a governor-appointed bipartisan commission, which they say will not be truly fair.

In addition, the full legislation’s text says redistricting will be based on “one person, one vote,” which both sides of the issue are interpreting to mean two different things. Clean Missouri says “one person, one vote,” means only eligible voters will be counted instead of the total population when redrawing districts. Republican supporters of the bill are split, with some saying the wording just goes back to previous wording used in the state’s redistricting rules and then, everyone was counted. However, another group of supporters are saying yes, the phrase means only voters would be considered in redistricting.

How the phrase is interpreted would ultimately be decided by the state’s general assembly. If the decision was made to only count eligible voters, Missouri would be the first state to take that position.

Only counting eligible voters leaves out children under 18 and noncitizens of Missouri who make up nearly a quarter of the population. In addition, 28% of Black Missourians are children and 36% of Latinx Missourians are children, which is a large portion of representation for Missourians of color who would not be counted.

Cecilia-Ananya Belser-Patton, political director for Clean Missouri, said Missourians will lose significant representation for redistricting if Amendment 3 passes. Belser-Patton said it goes back to the legislation and policy connected with the Jim Crow South.

“It harkens back to language and policy in which African Americans were considered to be three-fifths of a person,” she said. “If this amendment passes, we would have representation that would be very similar to that type of representation.”

According to a report from the Brennan Center, not counting children or non-citizens would disproportionately affect communities of color.

“Only 21% of Missouri’s white population would go uncounted,” Rudensky writes. “By contrast, 28% of Missouri’s Black population, 54% of its Asian population, and 54% of its Latino population would be erased when district lines are drawn.”

In a video encouraging Missouri voters to vote against Amendment 3, Starsky D. Wilson, pastor of Saint John’s Church in St. Louis and CEO of the Deaconess Foundation said the passage of the amendment is a corrupt strategy to diminish the electoral power of Black and brown Missourians.

“Though children are not voters, they are impacted by votes,” Wilson said. “They have a right to have political representation. They shouldn’t be erased.”

“(Amendment 3) harkens back to Mississippi in the 1960s and 1970s and surely that is not a place that Missouri wants to go. And surely that is a place African Americans of Missouri don’t want to be. So, vote no on 3,” said Belser-Patton.

Other Issues on the Ballot You Should Know About

State Amendment 1 –

“Do you want to amend the Missouri Constitution to extend the two-term restriction that currently applies to the Governor and Treasurer to the Lt. Governor, Secretary of State, Auditor and the Attorney General?”

A “yes” vote will impose a two-term restriction on the lieutenant governor, secretary of state, state auditor and attorney general, which currently only applies to the governor and treasurer.

In Jackson County:

Question 1 –

“Shall Jackson County, Missouri, impose a monthly fee not to exceed $1.00 (one dollar) on a subscriber of any communications service that has been enabled to contact 911 for the purpose of funding 911 service in the County? The proceeds of this fee shall be deposited in the County’s special E-911 System Fund and not comingled with the general funds of the County, to be expended solely for the purpose set forth herein.”

Missouri is the only state that doesn’t impose a monthly charge on cell phone bills to support 911 systems. In Missouri, the systems are paid for with landline fees, which are used less and less, decreasing funding for 911 upgrades.

Question 2 –

“Shall Jackson County, Missouri, remove the statues of Andrew Jackson now located outside the Jackson County Courthouse in Kansas City and the Historic Truman Courthouse in Independence?”

After protesters defaced the Andrew Jackson statues outside the Jackson County Courthouse in June, conversations about removing the statue emerged.

Frank White, Jr, Jackson County executive recommended the statues, that are reminders of oppression, be removed.

“Let me be clear – we can never erase history. It is already written. But we don’t need symbols to remind us of the decades of oppression endured by people of color when that is the very thing we are desperately trying to dismantle and heal from today. Like all great counties, this is an opportunity for us to change and evolve together, for the better,” White said in a statement.

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Jazzlyn Johnson

Jazzlyn "Jazzie” is the former senior reporter for our team, who joined the company in 2020 in the midst of the pandemic, through the Report for America service program. For the past two years, she covered...

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