JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) – About half a dozen people have applied for an influential new job in Missouri to draw state legislative districts under a nationally unique mandate to achieve “partisan fairness” and “competitiveness” in elections.Missouri’s “nonpartisan state demographer” position was created by a voter-approved constitutional amendment last year to try to diminish the potential for political gamesmanship when state House and Senate districts are redrawn after the 2020 census.
People interested faced a Wednesday deadline to apply to State Auditor Nicole Galloway. She said Thursday that her office will forward at least six completed applications to the top Republican and Democrat in the Senate, who can select one for the job. A seventh applicant is still under review.
Missouri is one of eight states where voters have enacted redistricting reforms targeting partisan gerrymandering during the past decade. About one-third of all states will use independent or bipartisan commissions as part of their redistricting process after the 2020 census. But Missouri is the only state to mandate the use of a specific mathematical formula to try to engineer fair and competitive elections.
The new nonpartisan demographer will use that formula to create proposed maps for the state House and Senate that will be submitted to a pair of existing bipartisan state commissions. Those commissions will be able make changes to the demographer’s plans only by a 70% vote.
Missouri’s districts for the U.S. House will continue to be crafted by the state Legislature, subject to veto by the governor.
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