The Congressional redistricting lawsuit is back in Cole County Circuit court. Circuit Judge Dan Green sent the case to the Supreme Court, which sent it back.
Green asked political science professor David Kimball if the new map gerrymandered.
Kimball said by the standard that six Republicans and two Democrats would likely hold office under the the newly drawn U.S. House districts … yes.
Donna Turk, a Lee’s Summit resident whose husband is running for Congress on the Republican ticket in that area says the district boundaries don’t need to be so convoluted. And she says there’s no way urban and rural areas can be fairly combined in representation, referring She’s to a portion of suburban Jackson County that has been added to the 6th District, which encompasses nearly all of northern Missouri, which comprises sparsely populated farming communities, not urban and suburban areas.
At issue is whether the newly drawn districts are “as compact as may be” — a constitutional requirement.
“I am a disenfranchised voter now,” Turk says, telling the court she has urban issues and works for urban companies but is now thrown into an agricultural district.
Both urban and rural voters in West Central and Northern Missouri, as well as in Jackson County say their votes are going to be ignored under the new U.S. House map.
Norma Gene Connor, Saline County resident, another plaintiff in the case admits she’s a longtime politically active Democrat in that area.
“I’m a farmer, own farmland.” Lawyer Gerry Greiman asks her to describe nature of that county and she says, “It’s mostly rural, it’s farm land, animals, hogs and cattle. We have an ethanol plant in our county.”
Connor tells the court she’s concerned that an urban Congressman based in Kansas City would not be familiar with rural issues and properly represent her interests in the U.S. House. She says the same is true for nearby Lafayette and Ray counties.
Endsley Jones, another witness brought forward by the plaintiff, is a professor at the University of Missouri-St. Louis and resident of University City. He says the map inhibits the ability of Jefferson Co. to have an even economic development approach, particularly important for St. Charles area and other outlying areas.
Another concern brought forward to the court was that the new map mixes media markets, specifically that of Central Missouri and the St. Louis area. Gasconade County was said to be “on the fringe” that gets its news from both places.
Defending the new map include state Solicitor General James Layton and Eddie Greim, a private attorney.
On this second day of testimony, Greim pulled up maps of various districts in California, Arizona, Washington, Colorado, Maryland, Virginia — asking whether they are “compact” by definition.
Thomas Hofeller, a longtime redistricting expert who typically works for GOP operatives, says Missouri is more compact than all of them, many of which were deemed appropriate by the court.
The state Supreme Court has set a Friday deadline for Judge Green to make a decision.
The Cole County Circuit Court will have to issue a ruling on this case as the state senate maps go through a second reapportionment process. The state house district maps will have their day in court Friday, also in Cole County.
Meanwhile, the State House districts will be challenged in Cole Co. Circuit Court Friday and the Supreme Court has ordered that the State Senate maps again go through the reapportionment process.
Congressional districts are redrawn every ten years based on population shifts documented by the U.S. Census. The 2010 Census numbers resulted in the loss of one Congressional seat in Missouri, so the new map draws boundaries for eight districts as opposed to the previous nine.
The current map was approved by the Republican-controlled Legislature. Democratic Gov. Jay Nixon vetoed the map but the legislature overrode the veto.
AUDIO: Jessica Machetta reports (1:22)