JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (KMIZ)
Mid-Missourians vouch for new voting districts to be drawn within existing county lines at Thursday morning's public hearing.
The Missouri House bipartisan redistricting commission held a public hearing Thursday morning in Jefferson City to hear testimony from people living in surrounding counties about what they want to see on the state representative maps. The redistricting process happens every 10 years following the U.S. Census. The commission has until Dec. 23 to turn in its map; if it doesn't meet this deadline, district lines will be drawn by judges.
Public testimony at the Jefferson City hearing all had the same underlying request: that new districts respect existing county lines. Witnesses complained district lines can be so stretched that people on one end are living completely different lifestyles than those on the opposite end.
Most witnesses represented the Boone County population. Boone County resident Kory Kaufman said the communities in Boone County share a unique set of values that set them apart from surrounding counties, which is why he believes districts within Boone County should not stretch into other counties.
"Many of the communities in Boone County are different in many ways, but one thing that we all have in common is what we value as important," said Boone County resident Kory Kaufman.
The other public testimonies asked for the same thing, even the few witnesses not from Boone County.
Vice-Chair Keena Smith said the commission holds public testimony in order to understand what the people living within the districts are experiencing and what they'd like to see.
"Whether you're a child who will be able to vote in the next 10 years or whether you are a senior citizen, it doesn't matter," Smith said. "It doesn't matter your race, your color, your gender, your age, every single person needs to be counted and make sure that they are fairly represented, and that's what our job is to do, to create fair maps for Missouri."
The House Redistricting Commission has two more public hearings in Cape Girardeau on Nov. 8 and in Kirksville on Nov. 10.