JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. – Voters will head to the polls in less than a week, but in Missouri, there are two amendment questions on the ballot including a question in how state legislative districts are drawn in the state.
Amendment 3 could return the state to a bi-partisan committee for redistricting and lower contribution limits and lobbyist gifts, but how would this affect the voter? It could change the lawmaker representing you.
If this amendment sounds familiar to voters, it is. Amendment 1 (“Clean Missouri”) was approved in 2018 when 62 percent of voters approved the measure. It created the non-partisan state demographer for state legislative redistricting. Under the law, State Auditor Nicole Galloway would pick the person to redraw the districts.
The amendment also prohibited the state legislature from passing laws to allow for unlimited contributions to candidates.
“If you pass Amendment 3, you’re going to have a bi-partisan commission of 20 citizens, equal number of Democrats and Republicans,” State Senator Tony Luetkemeyer (R-Kansas City) said. “That’s traditionally the way how we’ve drawn districts in Missouri.”
Sean Nicholson, the campaign manager for No on Amendment 3, said the amendment lets lobbyists and political operatives draw maps in backrooms to protect their favorite politicians.
“They want as many super-duper Democrat seats as possible and as many super-duper Republican seats as possible so there is no way for voters to hold them accountable come elections next November,” Nicholson said. “That’s it. Everything else in the 5,000-word Amendment 3 is about rigging the maps to protect politicians.”
The amendment reads:
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 district from the Nonpartisan State Demographer to Governor-appointed bipartisan commissions; (ii) modifying and reordering the redistricting criteria.
“The first couple bullets, that’s the smokescreen,” Nicholson said. “That’s the lobbyist gift change, the 100 contribution. What’s really going on is in that third bullet, which is all about lobbyists and political insiders to draw maps to protect their friends.”
Those in favor of the amendment like Luetkemeyer wants the state to do away with those gifts.
“So, we are making sure we are keeping gifts and special interest out of Jefferson City and that’s what I think is so important about passing Amendment 3,” Luetkemeyer said. “What they are focusing on is that it’s a $5 gift limit but here’s the secret to the $5 gift limit, it resets every single day and it applies to individual lobbyists.”
Nicholson said the No on Amendment 3 campaign is against the redistricting process after voters approved Clean Missouri two years ago.
“What they have put on the ballot in Amendment 3 is way more than a repeal of what voters approved,” Nicholson said. “It would actually create a redistricting system in Missouri that’s unlike anything we ever seen.”
Luetkemeyer said voting “no” on Amendment 3 could take away your local representation.
“If we do not pass Amendment 3, you’re going to have the partisan demographer drawing highly gerrymandered shoestring districts into urban areas and out to rural Missouri,” Luetkemeyer said.
Another part of the Amendment, who is counted for in each district. Luetkemeyer said Amendment 3 will count only U.S. citizens.
“Amendment 1, which passed in 2019, it goes off a population model and what that means is you count every single person who is in the district, even if you’re not U.S. citizens,” Luetkemeyer said. “People who are here unlawfully in this country that are illegal immigrants will actually be counted for purposes of drawing state legislative districts and that’s going to pollute the vote of law-abiding citizens.”
Nicholas said Amendment 3, like Amendment 1 in 2018, is on the ballot again because some politicians are terrified of a fair process.
“We get better policy, we get better legislators, politicians working for us when they know we can hold them accountable,” Nicholson said.
If voters pass Amendment 3 on Nov. 3, it will go into effect at the beginning of 2021.
“These measures will take affect before the new state legislative maps are drawn and that’s why it’s so important that we do it now, because if we don’t fix redistricting now with Amendment 3, then we are going to have those highly gerrymander districts,” Luetkemeyer said.