Missouri Amendment 1: Cleaning up Missouri politics

Sponsors of Missouri Amendment 1—aptly nicknamed Clean Missouri—aims to increase fairness, integrity and transparency in Missouri politics. With the length and complexity of the 2018 midterm ballot, it’s fortunate that this good-government proposal is first on the ballot, because many voters may fall victim to ballot fatigue long before they get to some of the other issues.

What’s in the Clean Missouri amendment? Here’s a plain-English summary published by the perpetually knowledgeable and helpful League of Women Voters of Metropolitan St. Louis.

Amendment 1 would do the following:

  • Reduce campaign contribution limits to $2,500 for state Senate candidates and to $2,000 for state House candidates.
  • Eliminate almost all lobbyist gifts to members of the General Assembly
  • Require that all legislative records be open to the public, including committee reports, correspondence and electronic communications, and allow taping of all meetings open to the public.
  • Require politicians to wait two years after leaving office before becoming paid lobbyists.
  • Ensure that neither political party receives an unfair advantage when new legislative district maps are drawn after each census—also known as “gerrymandering.”
  • An independent demographer would draw maps that would then be reviewed by a citizen commission that must hold public meetings. Currently, politicians draw the maps to protect incumbents and their parties.

Those final two bullet points are crucial. They are the anti-gerrymandering provisions of Amendment 1. Contending that democracy depends on creating a level playing field in the way districts are drawn, Amendment 1 specifies that when districts are constructed they need to meet the following criteria, in order of priority:

  • Make districts as equal in population as practicable
  • Comply with the U.S. Constitution, the Voting Rights Act of 1965, and other federal laws
  • Promote partisan fairness and competitiveness
  • Be composed of contiguous territory, coincide with the boundaries of cities, towns and municipalities, and be compact.

The League of Women Voters has been advocating for the kind of redistricting reform specified in Amendment 1 [more details here] and, therefore, supports the proposal.

Here are some illustrations of a few, crazily gerrymandered Congressional districts in other states:

Missouri Amendment 1
Pennsylvania Congressional District 7
Missouri Amendment 1
Illinois Congressional District 4, also known as “the earmuffs.”
A gerrymandered Congressional District in North Carolina