Amendment 3: Effort to overturn Clean Missouri redistricting poised to pass narrowly
With 99 percent of the votes counted, Missouri voters appeared set to reverse changes they made to the redistricting process two years ago aimed at making the statehouse more competitive.
Unofficial results as of midnight Tuesday showed Amendment 3 poised to pass 51 percent-49 percent despite a well-financed campaign to defeat it.
Assuming nothing changes, the result would be a huge victory for the Republican lawmakers who sponsored it in an effort that could very well save their supermajorities.
A little explanation: Prior to 2018, districts were to be drawn by bipartisan commissions appointed by the governor, with a focus on drawing compact shapes.
But under those rules, some felt the maps were unfairly tilted toward Republicans.
In 2018, Republicans won an average of 57 percent of the two-party vote across 163 state House districts, but took 71 percent of the seats.
Clean Missouri created a new demographer position to draft districts aimed at producing more competitive elections and a legislature better reflecting the statewide vote, where the two parties are often more evenly matched than they are in the Republican-dominated statehouse.
The half-Republican, half-Democrat commissions still review the maps, but they can’t override the demographer unless 70 percent of committee members agree.
An Associated Press analysis suggested the new formula could bolster Democrats’ chances in 2022, after the current census, and ultimately end Republican supermajorities, which can pass legislation over a governor’s veto without a single Democratic vote.
Amendment 3 scraps the demographer and puts concerns about competitive elections on the backburner.
The old bipartisan commissions are also back in charge with appellate judges backing them up if they deadlock.
Republicans said their amendment would prevent maps with “spaghetti” string districts combining urban, suburban and rural areas drawn to make races more competitive, though opponents disputed that.
It may make more funny business possible, though: a key change allows mapmakers to calculate the population of each district without counting immigrants, children and nonvoters.
Researchers who supported Clean Missouri said doing that would strengthen the influence of old, white and rural Missourians — who generally vote Republican — at the expense of minority communities and young people — who generally vote Democratic.
Amendment 3 also bans all gifts to lawmakers from paid lobbyists, though it does not prevent them from receiving gifts from unpaid lobbyists and lobbyists related to a legislator within the fourth degree, including first cousins.
It also reduces the amount an individual could donate to a Missouri Senate candidate's personal campaign committee by $100, from $2,500 to $2,400.
Voters shoot down more term limits
At the same time voters backed lawmakers' plan on redistricting, they rejected another proposal on term limits 52.9 percent-47.1 percent.
Amendment 1 would have extended the two-term limit currently applied to the governor and state treasurer to the auditor, attorney general, lieutenant governor and secretary of state.
Multiple officials in the latter positions have exceeded two terms in recent history, including Democratic Attorney General Jay Nixon, who served in that role from 1993-2009 before running for governor, and Republican Lt. Gov. Peter Kinder, who served from 2005-2017.
Secretary of State James Kirkpatrick, a Democrat, was in office longer than both of those men, though: he served five terms from 1965-1985.
Austin Huguelet is the News-Leader's politics reporter. Got something he should know? Have a question? Call him at 417-403-8096 or email him at email@example.com.