Who should be counted when Missouri’s 197 legislative districts are redrawn: everyone who lives in the state or only citizens old enough to vote?
It’s not a question that’s gotten much attention in the more than a year lawmakers have been debating whether to repeal the redistricting plan overwhelmingly enacted by voters in 2018.
Yet legal scholars say in nearly every version of legislation targeting the plan there is one line that could have a massive impact — a change in the state constitution requiring that districts be drawn “on the basis of one person, one vote.
Republicans downplay the significance, saying the change is merely an effort to match federal law.
But critics contend the revision could result in a redistricting process that forgoes the use of total population to draw districts and insteadexcludes all non-voters, specifically children and non-citizens.
That change could also shift political power to Republican-leaning parts of the state.
“I don’t know if putting one person, one vote into the state constitution is intended to serve as a predicate for citizen-only districting, but it’s certainly a possibility,” said Rick Hasen, a professor of law and political science at the University of California, Irvine. “What is the alternative explanation?”