Redistricting hearings in Kansas City raise concerns on ‘who counts’ in population

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KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Another decade has passed and that means another round of redistricting in Missouri.

On Tuesday the commissioners in charge of drawing the new lines for Missouri state Senate and House districts held hearings in Kansas City, Missouri.

Those commissioner must agree to a final map by December 31. If that does not happen the issue will go to the courts for a decision.

The two sessions, three hours apiece, allowed the public to appeal to commissioners who could change which politicians represents which people next year.

Missouri State Rep. Emily Weber said a change is pretty much a given for a portion of her constituents.

“My district is the Midtown/Downtown area of Kansas City and it did grow. And so my district did grow a lot so we know that my district is going to get cut and it’s going to get condensed down,” Weber said.

“So we’re just looking at what those boundaries can be. One of my boundaries is the state line so we know we have to keep that,” Weber said.

One person who delivered testimony was Evelyn Maddox, voter protection lead for the Missouri League of Women Voters.

“The League of Women Voters believes that district maps should continue to be drawn on the basis of total population which would include all the people in a given area rather than only citizens of voting age,” Maddox said during her testimony.

She said the organization is staying vigilant in the face of Amendment 3 which passed in 2020. It says in part that “Districts shall be as nearly equal as practicable in population, and shall be drawn on the basis of one person, one vote.”

“When the league of Women voters advocated against Amendment 3 at the time it was on the ballot in 2020 we were aware that this language relating to one person, one vote could be problematic because some people might choose to interpret that to use it as a basis for counting population,” Maddox said.

“It is obvious that using voting age as basis for redistricting would benefit rural areas at the expense of Missourians who live in more populous urban areas like our Kansas City area,” Maddox said.

Here are the remaining hearings before the commissions:

Springfield: Monday, Oct. 18, House Commission hearing at 9 a.m., 18 Senate Commission Hearing at 1 p.m., both at University Plaza Hotel & Convention Center.

Jefferson City: Thursday, Nov. 4, House Commission hearing in the Jefferson Building, 205 Jefferson St., time TBD.

Cape Girardeau: Tuesday, Nov. 9, House Commission hearing at 10 a.m., Drury Plaza.

Kirksville: Nov. 10, House Commission hearing at 10 am, location TBD.

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