Redistricting reformers urged the people charged with drawing new voting-district maps in Missouri to commit to putting the voters over partisan interests.
Gov. Mike Parson has appointed a bipartisan group of commissioners to draw state legislative maps. The Legislature draws congressional maps.
Caroline Fan, founder and president of the Missouri Asian American Youth Foundation, said in the past, map-making has been done out of the public eye. She wants to see more transparency this year, and stressed one crucial piece is listening to local residents about what matters to them. It could be a common place of worship, a school district, a race or ethnicity.
"This is our opportunity as Missourians to kind of hit 'refresh,'" Fan contended. "And if certain areas have grown, other areas have shrunk, to make sure that everyone is well represented, and that we have fair maps."
Fan added map-drawing tools are far more accessible now than 10 years ago, the last time new districts were created, which means it is much easier for residents to have a say in the process, by laying out their recommendations and submitting them to the commission at public hearings.
Missouri House and Senate commissioners have six months to agree on a set of new voting district maps before a judicial panel takes over. Fan emphasized the importance of community input.
"Even these communities that might only make up 2% of the state's population, it's still really important that all of these communities are heard," Fan asserted. "And particularly because some of these communities are really growing."
Block-by-block census data crucial for redistricting is normally available by April 1 the year following the census. But this year, it was delayed due to the pandemic and efforts by the Trump administration; first to add a citizenship question to the census and then, to exclude undocumented people in determining the number of representatives each state gets.
Parson is among a group of Republican governors calling on the Census Bureau to release the data as soon as possible.