As Dushanne Stokes said, “When dealing in lies listen more to what is not said than what is said.” For Missouri voters like myself, that’s exactly what we need to do when we vote on Amendment 3.
This statewide constitutional amendment seeks to undo critical redistricting reforms enacted by Missouri voters in 2018. But you may not know it from reading the text that's on your ballot. To overturn those landmark changes, which included creating a fair, impartial process for drawing legislative districts in the state, politicians know their only path is to trick voters. Indeed, Amendment 3 is a deceptive effort to diminish the political power of millions of Missourians.
Reading the full text of Amendment 3, it’s clear that it’s not real reform, but rather a sneaky attempt to reverse voter-approved measures and implement changes to the redistricting process that would once again allow lobbyists and political operatives to draw the lines for their favorite politicians. That’s why I’m voting no on Amendment 3.
In response to a lawsuit filed by No On 3, the group that championed the Clean Missouri reforms and is opposed to Amendment 3, two separate courts found that the ballot language politicians wanted to appear for Amendment 3 was misleading, unfair, and insufficient. Ultimately, the final ballot language was created and approved by the Missouri Court of Appeals. While better than the language that was first proposed, voters should still be prepared for confusing and complicated language.
While Amendment 3 includes language that appears to reduce the influence of big money in politics, the illusion politicians have created falters under scrutiny.
If Amendment 3 passes, it would change the limit for gifts from paid lobbyists from $5 to $0—with exemptions. It would also change the maximum campaign contributions to state senate candidates by a mere $100. Most importantly and most concerning, Amendment 3 would open the door for districts to be created based on voting-age population rather than total population, effectively disenfranchising 1.5 million Missourians.
These are not real reforms. They’re a smokescreen to trick voters into overturning the landmark fair map and fair redistricting rules already passed by an overwhelming bipartisan majority of Missourians. This kind of deception was the reasoning for the court changing the original ballot language.
“The legislature’s summary instead seeks to entice voters to adopt the measure by misleadingly overstating a modest $5 reduction in allowable lobbyist gifts and a $100 reduction to Senate contribution limits,” Judge Joyce said in her ruling.
“The legislature seeks to override the recent, clearly expressed will of Missouri voters on a matter as important as redistricting, the law requires that voters be plainly informed what they are being asked to consider.”
Voters should always pick the lawmakers that represent them, but for far too long lawmakers have been able to pick their constituents instead – gerrymandering their districts to rig future elections in their favor.
As voters, we have the power. We can create positive change in our communities. It’s unacceptable that the politicians behind Amendment 3 are attempting to deceive and mislead their constituents in order to serve their own interests.
This power grab won’t just mean gerrymandered districts for the next decade, but also means that corrupt politicians will be able to impact policy for generations to come. As Missourians, we have a duty to protect our democracy and stop corrupt legislators from overturning the will of voters.
I want my vote to matter and for our elected officials to be elected through a fair process. Voting against Amendment 3 will mean more competitive districts, fairer elections, and better representation for communities of color.
Reggie Thedford is the deputy political director at Stand Up America.