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Regarding ‘Clean Missouri’

My thanks to your reporter, John Tremmel, for an informative article about “Clean Missouri” [Feb. 26, West Newsmagazine]. When the issue was put to a vote in November 2018, there was no explanation of the existing redistricting process, and very little detail about the new process that would replace it. The information at the time suggested that a professional demographer would perform redistricting on a nonpartisan basis, but without mention of any review of his work.

I remember thinking that replacing a committee of legislators, responsible to voters, with a “non-partisan” demographer, appointed by the partisan state auditor and not subject to approval by either voters or legislators, might not work out as expected. If the demographer’s qualifications are to be defined solely by the state auditor, with no other review, then the “non-partisan” goal may not be achieved. Perhaps the demographer should be subject to Senate approval.

The article suggests that the existing committee of legislators will still have a role to play in redistricting [approving the demographer’s proposal], but we’ll have to wait until legislation is passed to discover the criteria for “fair” redistricting. Presumably these will include compactness, continuity, partisan fairness, and competitiveness [guidelines from the Voting Rights Act of 1965]. However, since history tells us that things often don’t work out as intended, there should also be a way of measuring the effectiveness of the “fair” criteria, and for revising them if needed.

In these days of political partisanship, we can see the benefit of the founding fathers’ approach to government by recognizing that there are competing interests and that when they all have a voice, the result may be better.

As the 2020 elections draw closer, television viewers are constantly bombarded with a blitzkrieg of political ads, our inboxes inundated with a steady flow of their emails, while mailboxes are stuffed to capacity with their letters.

George White

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