The process of drawing the districts for the Missouri State House of Representatives is a gathering of 18 people (9 Democrats/9 Republicans) from the 9 Congressional Districts to figure out a way to satisfactorily draw 163 State House Districts.
This introduction will be more about an overall history and the possible number of districts per county.
When it comes to the history of the Missouri House districts before one-man one-vote, every county got a Representative, some got more than others. In 1962 and 1964, Jackson County had 13 districts, St. Louis County had 14 districts, St. Louis City had 15 districts, Jasper/Jefferson/Boone had 2 districts, and Buchanan/Clay/Greene Counties had 3 districts. The other 106 counties had 1 member. Predictably, these unequal districts were struck down by 1965.
Fun note: If Missouri’s House district size were based on Worth County’s population right now, the Missouri House would have 2758.6 members. Presumably they would have the same amount of office space in that scenario.
So, what did the first map look like?
Aw, the simpler times when the deviation between district populations was still relatively high, allowing for a lot of one county/two county/three county districts.
Obviously quite a few incumbents from the old system were paired. Such as Mike Bauer of Harrison County, who defeated incumbent Representatives from Mercer and Schuyler counties in the Republican Primary before defeating an incumbent Democrat from Putnam County in the General Election for the 90th District. Presumably the only time that one man has defeated three incumbent Missouri State Legislators in one election cycle.
Worth noting that they just went with giving Jackson County and St. Louis the first 77 District numbers, while having an almost-logical district number sequence in the rest of the state. Don’t worry, it changes and gets more random later.
Here’s the 1973-1983 Map
This time around, they give Northeast Missouri the top district numbers (a sequence that has remained in place for the last 40 years) and the districts start to cut through more counties to achieve the ideal population size.
The 1983-1993 map did not copy very well to the Missouri Blue Book:
Then for the 1993-2003 map, they attempt to draw the Jackson/St. Louis district lines in a statewide.
The 2003-2013 map is the map that will be referred to the most in creating the 2013-2023 map.
As you can see, the wonders of population gains in some parts of the state lead to out of sequence district numbers. Such as HD62 and HD68 being in Southwest Missouri while every other House District in the 60s is in St. Louis. It seems that with every redistricting, the Missouri House District numbers become more randomly placed like Missouri State Highway designations.
So, who’s gonna get a lot of seats in the 2011 redistricting? There’s a map for that too.
As you can see, most counties in the state don’t have enough population to make up a majority of a House District. There are quite a few which could make up a majority of the people in a district, if drawn like that. 13 Districts have enough population for one district entirely in their county, with three more counties (Webster, Barry, Laclede) having that ability with a high deviation in district populations.
109 counties didn’t have their number of ideal seats change more than 0.5. But amongst the big winners and losers?
Winners: St. Charles County (8.27 to 9.81), Clay County (5.36 to 6.04), and Christian County (1.58 to 2.11).
Losers: Jackson County (19.08 to 18.35), St. Louis City (10.14 to 8.69), and St. Louis County (29.61 to 27.19)
So in St. Louis (County and City), the number of seats will drop from just under 40 to just under 36. Jackson County could wind up with 18 seats completely in the county and one that goes somewhere else. The Suburban areas gain and the potential for more creative line drawing* exists.
(* – Creative Line Drawing is when the district looks bizarre while having no political reason to look so bizarre.)
The ideal district size of 36,742 is only a suggestion. The ideal district size for the 2003-2013 districts was 34,326. But some districts were 1,000 people below that ideal size and some where a 1,000 people above that ideal size. With the realities of precinct sizes and boundaries, the populations may differ within legally acceptable lines.
The task of Missouri House Redistricting will involve a lot more than just creating 163 districts near the ideal size of 36,742 (give or take a few percentage points where necessary). Those realities are going to come out a few more over the summer until the map is finished and prospective candidates are forced to change their cards to reflect the new number of the district they’re campaigning to Represent.
Some things that I am willing to bet happen
a) There’ll still be some out of sequence district numbers (extra points if they just put another STL-area district number in Christian County)
b) There won’t be much crossing of the Missouri River to create a district. As you can see, there never has been much taste for that, outside of Franklin County on one map, and Saline/Howard Counties in the 1990s.
c) There will be paired incumbents. But there’ll also be incumbents coincidentally in districts with termed-out incumbents.
d) Nobody will get everything they want. Not every legislator will like the map. If they do, then the EPA should step in and make sure our tap water hasn’t been spiked.
e) You’ll probably hear the phrase “Missouri Appellate Apportionment Commission” sometime in the process of drawing the districts. Maybe even to the point where six appellate court judges draw the districts if the committee can’t agree.
That’s an introduction, to show you where maps have evolved from and which areas will gain or lose members next year. With the Missouri State Legislature adjourned (thankfully), this may be one of the more interesting political things to go on for a few weeks. At least until candidates start announcing for higher offices.