Gov. Mike Parson’s office said it would hold a redistricting legislation signing ceremony on Wednesday afternoon.
JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. — Missouri Governor Mike Parson signed into law new U.S. House districts on Wednesday that are expected to bolster Republican strength in the state’s most competitive congressional district ahead of this election. year.
The new electoral districts took effect immediately, meaning they will take place for the Aug. 2 primary. But local election authorities will have to scramble to make the behind-the-scenes changes needed to have mail-in ballots available by next month.
Parson’s signature on the redistricting legislation capped a difficult process that exposed deep schisms between Republican leaders in the state House and Senate and some conservative GOP lawmakers, who had pushed for more aggressive districts in favor of the GOP. That map that eventually passed is expected to maintain the Republicans’ decade-long 6-2 advantage over the Democrats in the state’s congressional delegation.
Finally breaking a deadlock, the Missouri Legislature gave final approval last week to HB2909, which sets new boundaries for Missouri’s eight congressional districts. The former swing state has turned increasingly red in recent years.
Missouri had been one of the last states to adopt new US House districts based on the 2020 census. That’s because Republicans who control both legislative chambers spent much of their session bickering. between them to know how aggressively to draw districts to their advantage and which communities to divide while balancing the population between districts.
Because the new districts have taken so long to pass, Republican Secretary of State Jay Ashcroft has warned that local election officials may not have enough time to fine-tune everyone’s voting addresses before ballots are released. are prepared for the August 2 primaries. As a result, he said it was possible for some voters to receive the wrong ballots.
Missouri has only one relatively competitive congressional district – the 2nd district of suburban St. Louis, held by Republican Rep. Ann Wagner. Republicans have made it a priority to fortify this district against Democratic gains.
The new plan boosts the Republican vote share there by 3 percentage points from current districts, according to a legislative staff analysis that focused on the best results from the 2016-20 election.
Republican voting strength would be reduced by a similar margin in the neighboring 3rd District, which surrounds the St. Louis area before expanding west into central Missouri. But the GOP would still hold a sizable advantage there.
The redistricting plan also redraws the 5th District to focus more narrowly on the Kansas City area — helping Democrats — instead of expanding it to rural areas as is currently the case.
One of the communities most affected by the redistricting plan would be Columbia, the state’s fourth-largest city and home to the University of Missouri. A dividing line running through downtown would move the college campus and south side of the city into the 3rd District while the northern portion would remain in the 4th District which extends west to the Kansas border.
Some lawmakers said it didn’t make sense to try to tie Kansas City residents to rural voters.