Prof. Justin Levitt's Guide to Drawing the Electoral Lines

Missouri

State Summary

In 2018, the voters passed a citizens’ initiative (Amd. 1) substantially reshaping the redistricting process; in 2020, the voters narrowly passed a legislatively referred initiative (Amd. 3) substantially reshaping that process again.

Missouri’s congressional districts are drawn by the state legislature, as a regular statute, subject to gubernatorial veto.  The state legislative lines are drawn by two separate politician commissions — one for state Senate districts, one for state House districts.  For each commission, each major party’s congressional district committee nominates 2 members per congressional district, and the state committee nominates 5 members; the Governor chooses 1 per district per party and two per party from the statewide lists, for a total commission of 20.

In the 2010 cycle, the legislature overrode a gubernatorial veto of HB193, enacting a congressional map into law on May 4, 2011.  For state legislative districts, as in the cycle before, both politician commissions deadlocked. The process then fell to a backup body of six state appellate judges, which issued state Senate and state House plans on Nov. 30, 2011, and revised state Senate plans on Dec. 9, 2011.  The original Nov. 30 state Senate plan was challenged in court and struck down, and the backup body was declared without authority to pass the Dec. 9 revised plan, so a different politican commission convened to draw a new state Senate plan on Mar. 12, 2012.

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Key Info for 2000 Cycle

Primary governing law

Mo. Const. art. III, §§ 257, 45

Key Info for 2010 Cycle

Website

Primary governing law

Mo. Const. art. III, §§ 257, 45

Key Info for 2020 Cycle

Website

Primary governing law

Mo. Const. art. III, §§ 357, 45

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The Latest Updates

Aug 31, 2020
A Missouri appellate court struck and replaced the ballot summary for a legislative ballot initiative seeking to modify a citizens' initiative from 2018.

Institution

Missouri’s congressional districts are drawn by the state legislature, as a regular statute, subject to gubernatorial veto.

The state legislative lines are drawn by two separate politician commissions, in place since 1966, but adjusted most recently in 2020.  For each commission, each major party’s congressional district committee nominates 2 members per congressional district (who may not share the same state legislative district), and the state committee nominates 5 members; the Governor chooses 1 per district per party and two per party from the statewide lists, for a total commission of 20.  No member of a commission may serve as a member of the general assembly for four years after filing a final plan, and state statutes currently prevent active lobbyists from serving on either commission.  [Mo. Const. art. III, §§ 3(c), 7(a); Mo. Rev. Stat. § 105.967]

For either commission, a plan must receive support from 70% of the commissioners in order to pass. [Mo. Const. art. III, §§ 3(c), 7(e)]   If one of the commissions does not agree on a legislative plan by the appropriate deadline, the state Supreme Court will appoint a commission of six state appellate judges to draw those lines. [Mo. Const. art. III, §§ 3(g), 7(f)]

Though Missouri generally permits lawmaking to be subject to referendum, the portion of the state constitution pertaining to state legislative districts exempts redistricting plans from the referendum.  It is not clear if this would also be construed to apply to congressional districts.  [Mo. Const. art. III, §§ 3(i), 7(h)]

The circuit court of Cole county has exclusive jurisdiction for a challenge to a redistricting plan filed in state court, with exclusive appeal to the state Supreme Court.  [Mo. Const. art. III, §§ 3(j), 7(i)]

Timing

Missouri state law does not impose a particular deadline for drawing congressional lines, though candidates must file for congressional primary elections by Mar. 29, 2022. [Mo. Rev. Stat. § 115.349(1)]  The legislative session began on Jan. 6, 2021, and is currently scheduled to end on May 30, 2021.

For state legislative districts, tentative plans must be drawn within five months of each respective commission’s appointment, and final maps must be drawn within six months of the commission’s appointment.  [Mo. Const. art. III, §§ 3(e)-(f), 7(d)-(e)]  If either commission fails to draw a plan, the state Supreme Court will appoint a commission of six appellate judges, which must draw that respective plan within 90 days. [Mo. Const. art. III, §§ 3(g), 7(f)]  Candidates must file for state legislative primary elections by Mar. 29, 2022. [Mo. Rev. Stat. § 115.349(1)]

Missouri prohibits redrawing state legislative district lines mid-decade, before the next Census. For congressional districts, state law ties the drawing of lines to the Census, and might therefore be construed to prohibit redrawing lines mid-decade. [Mo. Const. art. III, §§ 3(g), 7(f)45Preisler v. Doherty, 284 S.W.2d 427, 436-37 (Mo. 1955)]

Public input

State law provides for at least three public hearings on state legislative plans, and also hearings during the fifteen days after tentative maps are published. [Mo. Const. art. III, §§ §§ 3(d)-(e), 7(d)]

State law also requires the provision of a website to receive and display comments and proposals, but that website was to be established by a state demographer position created by 2018 initiative and removed in the 2020 initiative.  [Mo. Rev. Stat. § 127.030]

Criteria

Like all states, Missouri must comply with constitutional equal population requirements.  Missouri state law also requires that congressional districts be “as nearly equal in population as may be,” and that state legislative districts be “as nearly equal as practicable in population, and shall be drawn on the basis of one person, one vote.”  This language for state legislative districts is new in 2020, and has not yet been interpreted by the courts.  Districts must be no more than 1% from the average population, except that deviations of up to 3% are permitted if necessary to follow political boundaries.  [Mo. Const. art. III, §§ 3(b)(1), 7(c)]

Missouri must also, like all states, abide by the Voting Rights Act and constitutional rules on race.  For state legislative districts, state law further provides that “no district shall be drawn in a manner which results in a denial or abridgment of the right of any citizen of the United States to vote on account of race or color; and no district shall be drawn such that members of any community of citizens protected by the preceding clause have less opportunity than other members of the electorate to participate in the political process and to elect representatives of their choice.”  [Mo. Const. art. III, §§ 3(b)(2), 7(c)]

Missouri also requires congressional and state legislative districts to be contiguous, and as compact “as may be,” defined in state law as districts which are square, rectangular, or hexagonal to the extent permitted by natural or political boundaries.  State law also requires that state legislative districts follow county and municipal lines:  a county with at least one district must include as many people as possible in districts wholly within the county, and any other people within the county must be in just one additional district; no more than two parts of the county can be combined in a district that spills over county boundaries; and there must be as few split counties, county segments, and municipal lines as possible.  [Mo. Const. art. III, §§ 3(b)(3)-(4),7(c), 45]

As a last priority, districts must purportedly respond to standards of “partisan fairness” and “competitiveness,” but the parameters of the particular specified measures are unlikely to constrain plans with significant partisan imbalance, or those that are not at all competitive.   State law requires use of a measure ostensibly based on the “efficiency gap,” a rough gauge of the degree to which districts are “packed” and “cracked” for partisan advantage given various swings in the statewide vote.  State law requires that scores on this measure not exceed 15% … which includes maps near historical extremes of partisan imbalance, and maps that might include no districts at all that political scientists would generally consider “competitive.”  [Mo. Const. art. III, §§ 3(b)(5), 7(c)]

2010 cycle

On May 4, 2011, the legislature overrode a gubernatorial veto of HB193, enacting a congressional map into law.

For state legislative districts, as in 2000, both politician commissions — one for state Senate districts, one for state House districts — deadlocked. The process then fell to a backup body of six state appellate judges, which issued state Senate and state House plans on Nov. 30, 2011, and revised state Senate plans on Dec. 9, 2011.

The original Nov. 30 state Senate plan was challenged in court and struck down, and the backup body was declared without authority to pass the Dec. 9 revised plan, so a different politican commission convened to draw a new state Senate plan.  On Mar. 12, 2012, that commission released a final state Senate map.  [State ex rel. Teichman v. Carnahan, 357 S.W.3d 601 (Mo. 2012)]

The congressional and state House plans were also challenged in court, but those challenges were rejected.  [Pearson v. Koster, 367 S.W.3d 36 (Mo. 2012); Johnson v. Missouri, 366 S.W.3d 11 (Mo. 2012)]

2000 cycle

In the 2000 redistricting cycle, Missouri’s legislature enacted a congressional plan (HB 1000) that was signed on June 1, 2001.

Because neither commission could agree on a state legislative plan, however, the state legislative districts were drawn by a court-appointed committee of appellate judges. and state legislative district plans on Nov. 30, 2001.  It appears that neither plan was challenged in court.

Redistricting Cases in Missouri

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Missouri | State Trial | State Appellate | Process
Pippens v. Ashcroft
State court struck existing ballot summary for legislative redistricting initiative, rewrote summary
Last Updated Aug 31, 2020
Case Number

No. 20AC-CC00206 (Mo. Cir. Ct., Cole Cnty.), No. WD83962 (Mo. Ct. App., W.D.)

Cycle 2020
Missouri | State Trial | State Appellate | Process
Ritter v. Ashcroft
State court rejected single-subject challenge to proposed redistricting initiative
Last Updated Sep 24, 2018
Case Number

No. 18AC-CC00302 (Mo. Cir. Ct., Cole Cnty.), Nos. WD82110, WD82111, WD82116, WD82117 (Mo. Ct. App., W. Dist.), Nos. SC97416, SC97426 (Mo. S. Ct.)

Cycle 2020
Missouri | State Trial | Process
Mehan v. Ashcroft
State court rejected challenge to proposed redistricting initiative
Last Updated Aug 17, 2018
Case Number

No. 18AC-CC00318 (Mo. Cir. Ct., Cole Cnty.)

Cycle 2020