We discuss the current redistricting process with Mary Lindsay of Kansas City, a member of the League of Women Voters of Missouri‘s Fair Redistricting Committee, Connie Taylor, who represented the League of Women Voters of Johnson County, Kansas, in testifying before a state redistricting committee last August, and Tommye Sexton, who has been observing the process of redrawing the Kansas City, Missouri, city council district boundaries.
People concerned about redistricting in Kansas City, Missouri, can post comments to https://www.kcmo.gov/programs-initiatives/redistrict.
In Missouri the state’s legislative Redistricting Commissions are composed of 50/50 of Democrats and Republicans. If they do not get 70% agreement on maps the process will be completed by a panel of 6 state appellate judges; the latter seems likely. Proposed maps and public testimony for Missouri are available from the web site of the Redistricting Office of the Division of Budget & Planning of the Missouri Office of Administration.
Citizens have been encouraged to involve themselves in this process through the use of online tools for drawing and analyzing district maps and through submitting comments and attending public meetings of the committees responsible for redistricting.
- Districtr, a free, public web tool for district and community identification, managed by the MGGG Redistricting Lab at Tufts University.
- PlanScore to evaluate the fairness of proposed district maps.
These tools work in most parts of the US. PlanScore works for the state legislatures in both Kansas and Missouri and the Missouri delegation to the US House.
Citizen involvement is important now while district maps are being drawn for the next decade using in part last year’s census.
Politicians prefer to select their voters. When they do that, democracy often suffers, because politicians often draw district boundaries so their supporters have small but adequate majorities in as many districts as possible (called “cracking”), while supporters of their opponents are otherwise “packed” into as few districts as possible. Currently, in Missouri, Republicans hold 70 percent of the seats in the Missouri House and Senate and 75 percent of the Missouri delegation in the US House. That’s true even though a 2018 poll found that only 47 percent of Missouri voters identified as “Republican” or “Leaning Republican” while 38 percent identified as “Democrat” or “Leaning Democratic”. It’s hard to imagine how that might have been achieved with fair districts. Unfair districts are called “Gerrymanders” after Elbridge Gerry, Governor of Massachusetts in 1812, when a political cartoonist thought a district northeast of Boston looked like a salamander and called it a “Gerry-mander”.