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Missouri GOP trying to overturn election reform passed by 62% of voters

In 2018, voters in Missouri overwhelmingly supported a ballot referendum increasing the fairness of the redistricting process. Now the GOP wants a do-over.

By Lisa Needham - May 08, 2019
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Missouri state Sen. Dave Schatz

Missouri Republicans want to make sure they stay in power — so much so that they’re happy to override the will of voters to do it.

The GOP-controlled state Senate is set to approve a ballot initiative, which was already approved by the state House, that would undo a redistricting reform amendment passed by Missouri voters in 2018.

This reform, the “Clean Missouri” referendum, was backed by an overwhelming 62% of Missouri voters. But since the measure would stop the GOP from gerrymandering the state, they’re now trying to roll it back.

If Republicans have their way, their new measure would appear on the 2020 ballot.

Clean Missouri made several changes to the state’s election laws, including capping campaign finance contributions, diminishing the power of lobbyists, and making redistricting fairer. The measure replaced Missouri’s existing commission-based model of redistricting with a nonpartisan demographer. The state auditor would then take applications for that demographer and then forward at least three applications to the state Senate, and the Senate would get to pick the winner.

Although this process still gave the state Senate the ultimate control over who became the state’s demographer — and therefore who would draw legislative districts — the current state auditor is a Democrat. Giving a Democrat influence at any point in the process is apparently too much for the GOP to bear, so they want to go back to using a commission instead.

Missouri Republicans aren’t being subtle about claiming that they know what’s best for voters, even when their stance directly contradicts what voters decided at the ballot box. Senate President Dave Schatz said he thought Clean Missouri was a “train wreck,” while Sen. Bill Eigel, who proposed the new measure undoing Clean Missouri, complained that the courts in Missouri made a “horrible mistake” allowing the reform measure on the 2018 ballot.

This is far from the only instance of Republicans undermining the clearly stated wishes of voters simply because they don’t like the result. Republican-controlled legislatures have been ignoring the will of the people across the country.

It happened in Wisconsin, where the GOP stripped the incoming Democratic governor of significant powers. It happened in Michigan, where Republicans tried to undo a sick leave provision the voters wanted. It’s happening right now in Florida, where the legislature just voted to drastically limit a 2018 constitutional amendment that restored voting rights to most felons.

After this latest move in Missouri, it’s becoming increasingly clear that when Republicans lose elections, they won’t accept the consequences.

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation. 


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