Legislative Redistricting Plan Causes Confusion
For years, Clark County has been in Missouri House of Representatives District One, but that’s about to change.“Most of the House districts will change next year,” said First District Representative Craig Redmon. “I’ll represent District 4.”Fortunately for Redmon, the shape of his district won’t change much. The new 4th District will gain some voters surrounding Kirksville, but lose some in Marion County. Other districts aren’t so lucky. Fifty-five of the new districts will force incumbent legislators to face one another for their elected position. Of those seats, 36 are Republican, while 19 are Democrat. Most are currently legislators in their first term.On the Senate side, Senator Brian Munzlinger’s 18th District adds four counties to the northwest: Sullivan, Linn, Mercer and Grundy, while giving up Audrain, Ralls and Pike Counties.The redistricting was needed following the 2010 census. Redistricting occurs every ten years following the census. Based on the 2010 Census, Missouri’s resident population increased by 7% to 5,988,927. This increase, combined with regional population shifts, required significant changes in the state’s 34 current Senate districts and 163 current House districts to meet the constitutional requirement that districts be as equal in population as practicable.After the bipartisan citizen commissions deadlocked and couldn’t decide on the new maps, the task was turned over to a panel of six appellate judges selected by the Missouri Supreme Court.On Nov. 30, the panel released the new maps that shook up the House and Senate seats.On Dec. 9, the judges issued a new Senate map. In a news release, the judges said the new map was designed to subdue concerns about small counties being split in to multiple Senate districts.The Senate redistricting plan has an overall difference in population of 7.46% between its largest and smallest districts. The new plan has four African-American majority districts.The House redistricting plan has an overall population difference of 7.80% between its largest and smallest districts. The new plan has 16 African-American majority districts. It also has 2 districts wherein combined racial minority populations comprise a majority. Thus, the House plan has a total of 18 districts where racial minorities constitute a majority of the population.Candidate filing for election to the new districts begins February 28, 2012.“It seems like a weird coincindence that the new maps would throw so many incumbents against each other,’ said Redmon.The cost of the changes also concerns Redmon.“Everything will have to be changed because they renumbered the districts. Letterhead, license plates, business cards-everything we use will have to change. And that won’t be cheap. It will probably cost $10,000 or more for each seat, and there are 163 seats in the House.If the new maps stand, they will go into effect for next year’s general election.