SPRINGFIELD, Mo. — The League of Women Voters of Southwest Missouri (LWV) is hoping to make change when it comes to the way state legislative districts are drawn.
“Here in Springfield, we’re kicking off our participation in the Missouri mapping project,” said Joan Gentry, a voter services chairperson with LWV.
Organizations and individuals will be asked by LWV to draw maps to be concidered by the redistricting commission.
“We can encourage folks to look at gerrymandering, to look at the problems created when we have a one-party system and how much more involvement we could end up with our citizens if everybody felt like they could be heard,” said Gentry. “The more gerrymandered a district is, the less participation there is by voters.”
Gerrymandering is the manipulation of district lines in favor of a certian political party. The lines are usually disorganized.
“With gerrymandering, one party tends to be in power,” said Gentry. “It is to our advantage to have nonpartisan redistricting here because it benefits both republicans, democrats and including independents or any groups who feel ostracized.”
Gentry said people can look at the state senatorial district lines as an example.
“Springfield is this little circular entity surrounded by another entity,” said Gentry. “Looking at that, I think the questions that need to be answered are: does putting Springfield all alone by itself actually serve this community better or is it detrimental?”
District lines are to be drawn by bipartisan commissions in both the House and Senate.
Gentry said voters may be able to make a difference in how districts are drawn.
“One of the things that can be happening now is for individuals to contact their state legislators, to contact their local party officials,” said Gentry.
There will be more information on gerrymandering through a zoom call hosted by LWV on the League’s website.