McDowell claims Missouri Amendment 1 would adjoin distant voting districts


If November ballot measure Amendment 1 passes, municipalities such as  St. Louis and Joplin could be smushed into one district, according to Saundra McDowell, Republican candidate for state auditor. During an interview on "The Weekend Report" radio show, published online Aug. 20, McDowell, who is running against Democratic incumbent Nicole Galloway, said Amendment 1 would require all new voting districts to be 50 percent Republican and 50 percent Democrat. To do that, the auditor's office "could take one district, St. Louis here, and merge it with a district in southwest Missouri, a Republican district, and they don't even have to touch," she said, even adding later in the interview that "this will happen."

As states nationwide seek solutions for gerrymandering, Missouri is doing the same with Amendment 1, which would put the power of redrawing state voting districts into the hands of a non-partisan expert picked from a list curated by the auditor's office. The amendment also seeks to rid lobbyist gifts from the Missouri General Assembly and to keep legislative records public, among other stipulations. It is authored by Clean Missouri, a bipartisan group that aims to reduce the influence of lobbyists and corporations.

But Greim said a loophole in the same section of the amendment prioritizes fairer dispersal of Republicans and Democrats in an area over contiguity. The phrase in question is that contiguity is "subject to the requirements of subdivisions (1)(a) and (1)(b)." "Now, they only need to be composed (of contiguous districts) if you have met A and B," Greim said. So if A and B can only be met without contiguity, then contiguity becomes moot, Greim said. Ruth Greenwood, a redistricting attorney from Campaign Legal Center, said "subject to" simply means one requirement has a lower priority than another. "It would ultimately be up to the court to interpret the text," she said.

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