Slow and Steady

Tortoise and Hare at Copley Square, Nancy Schön, 1995

Today, the race for the next election has officially begun. Hey, I know that only yesterday was Election Day, but why dwell in the past? In Missouri there was no Blue Wave. In fact if anything the state became even redder, what with the Senate seat loss of Claire McCaskill. Maybe, you are just sick of electioneering at this point. Some of us are physically so, but remember, slow and steady wins the race. The Democrats are in a deep hole at this point. So, let’s get moving.

In the past, Missouri has employed an equally apportioned partisan commission to draw voting districts. This has led to a gerrymandered congressional map that safely elects partisan incumbents, almost all of them Republicans. Yesterday’s two-thirds passage of Amendment 1 could change this. This amendment calls for the choosing of a non-partisan demographer, who will draw the new map after the 2020 census. It is my hope that like in other states that have had their district boundaries redrawn by court order, a more representative and centrist congressional delegation will result. A few more Democrats would be OK too.

To that end, Amendment 1 was opposed by most Republicans. Only, elder statesmen from that party endorsed it (i.e. not Trumpsters). Claire endorsed it too. The amendment calls for the state auditor to draw up a list of candidate demographers that one will be selected from. This auditor is a Democrat. The MO Senate Leader (R) and Senate Minority Leader (D) are tasked to choose a candidate. In they can’t agree, then an arcane process is followed to select one.

The demographer is tasked to minimize each districts wasted votes or votes for the loser and votes more than 50% for the winner, based upon recent election results. If for this last election, this policy had been in place, the Democrats would have won more house seats than they did. Detractors on both sides are correct in arguing that this method will dilute both the black inner city vote and the white rural vote. It should increase the volatility of the MO congressional delegation, while making it more centrist, which in these times is a good thing.

Amendment 1 won’t have any impact in 2020. We’re looking at a long ball game here. The earliest that it could affect elections would be 2022. It also would not have any direct impact on offices that are held statewide. However, since most statewide office holders first work their way up to those posts, frequently though house seats, over time it would begin to affect them too.

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