Nothing has been more gut wrenching for fair-minded voters to witness than to see the implementation of Florida’s Amendment 4 stopped cold in its tracks. It is a trend that is sweeping across the country and Missouri has had its own experiences on the Republican-led legislatures totally disregarding the majority rule of a democracy. Amendment 3 is Missouri’s latest challenge to The People’s will.
Amendment 4 was designed to restore voting rights to 1.5 million formerly incarcerated people in this critical swing state for presidential elections. It was an historic act because it is the biggest voting expansion this country has seen in forty years. It seems that if the electorate’s agenda doesn’t sync with the Republican agenda, it must be counter-attacked.
I have had the opportunity to attend gatherings hosted by the Ballot Initiative Strategy Center. BISC helps to analyze and track ballot measures that advance democracy—and that trend is growing.
Ballot initiatives have become the popular weapon of choice by voters using their power when legislators refuse to do so. Instead, they have misused their legislative power to limit, block, or reverse the will of the voters.
In Missouri, we have used citizen-driven ballot initiatives to increase the minimum wage, to expand Medicare, to legalize medical marijuana and other issues. Clean Missouri was also one of those ballot voters passed resoundingly in 2018.
On the ballot known as Amendment 1, Clean Missouri made changes to lobbying laws and campaign finance limits. It also put forward a progressive redistricting process that included an independent mapmaker.
Despite the unmistakable election results, Missouri lawmakers have said no to all of the above. The Missouri legislature put the brakes on Amendment 1 before it had the chance to be fully implemented. It threw Amendment 3 onto the November ballot to neutralize the voter’s victory from two years ago.
Before Clean Missouri set campaign limits, voters had to compete with free-spending lobbyists for the attention of our lawmakers. Voters were losing that battle because these are the same lawmakers that oppose a family-centered agenda rooted in equity and fairness. Voters wanted an end to the backroom deals where we constantly got cut out.
Political operatives now seek to overturn the fair map rules put into law by voters, and to replace it with gerrymandering—the tried and true racist scheme out of the Southern playbook to suppress Black political power. Under the proposed plan, children and undocumented citizens will not be counted. Imagine that.
Amendment 3 has been appropriately dubbed Dirty Missouri. I’d like to add a few more adjectives. The ballot initiative is a dirty, low-down, deceitful trick that voters must reject on November 3.
It’s time to let politicians know who they work for. Us—The People. It’s time for the state legislature to get another jolt from the growing, multi-racial collective power of Missouri voters. Welcome to the new reality.