The Leader concludes its Voters Guide for the Nov. 3 primary election. To assist an expected high number of people who wish to cast absentee and write-in ballots as early as possible, we will be posting profiles on candidates in contested races and ballot issues. The deadline to apply for an absentee ballot or mail-in ballot is 5 p.m. Oct. 21; the deadline to register to vote is Oct. 7. For information, call the Jefferson County Clerk’s Office at 636-797-5486.
Missouri voters overwhelmingly approved the Lobbying, Campaign Finance and Redistricting Initiative, better known as Clean Missouri, in 2018.
On Nov. 3, Missourians will be asked if they want to keep the Clean Missouri amendment to the state’s constitution, which 62 percent of voters said they wanted, or make changes to it.
The amendment on next month’s ballot, called Constitutional Amendment No. 3, or less popularly the Redistricting Process and Criteria, Lobbying and Campaign Finance Amendment, will ask voters if they want to reverse the method they chose two years ago to have the state legislative maps redrawn after each federal Census.
The General Assembly placed the issue on the ballot, with Republicans voting overwhelmingly in approval.
All but one of the 46 Democrats in the House voted against placing it on the ballot, and none of the eight Democratic senators voted for it.
All legislators representing Jefferson County and Eureka voted to place the issue before voters.
Clean Missouri in 2018 replaced the old method of redrawing state House and Senate districts. Under the old method, the governor appointed a commission made up of equal numbers of Republicans and Democrats to redraw the maps, with a focus on making districts compact. If that panel couldn’t agree, appellate judges took over.
Critics of that method claim state legislators often worked together to produce districts that assured their re-election, at best. At worst, it resulted in gerrymandered districts, the critics say.
Clean Missouri was intended to fix that.
Under the changes approved by voters in 2018, the state auditor was charged with hiring a nonpartisan demographer to draw districts to produce more competitive elections, with the idea of producing a General Assembly that better reflects voters statewide.
Republicans generally believe having districts drawn by a nonpartisan demographer will result in more Democrats serving in the General Assembly.
Currently, 113 of the 163 seats in the Missouri House of Representatives are held by Republicans and 23 of the 34 state senators are Republican.
Clean Missouri proponents point out those numbers are out of whack, as most votes for statewide offices are routinely decided within 10 percentage points.
Amendment 3 would eliminate the nonpartisan demographer and replace it with separate bipartisan panels to redraw the state House and Senate maps. The 20 members of each group would be nominated by state and congressional district committees of each party. The governor would ultimately make the appointments.
It would also de-emphasize the requirement to redraw districts with an eye toward competitive elections.
A group formed to support Amendment 3 called Fair Missouri says on its website that the bipartisan committee will work to keep cities from being split up among districts, will guard against minorities from being underrepresented and “finish the job” the 2018 amendment did not do, by banning gifts to legislators from paid lobbyists and reducing campaign contribution limits.
A group called No on 3, which opposes the amendment on the November ballot, counters on its website that its passage likely would limit minority representation and that instead of drawing districts based on total population, it would use the number of registered voters – a change that would likely benefit the Republican Party.
No. on 3 also says the amendment’s proposed ban on lobbyist gifts will have a minimal impact because the current limit is $5, which Clean Missouri put in place.
Likewise, critics of Amendment 3 say reducing contributions to Senate candidates by $100, from the $2,500 set by Clean Missouri in 2018 to $2,400 per election, would not have the sweeping changes promised by some supporters.
The limit on donations to House candidates would remain at $2,000 per election, an amount also set by Clean Missouri in 2018.