You probably know that the U.S. census is taken every 10 years. However, you may not realize that the census involves more than simply counting people.The data collected is used to ensure equal representation of each resident in the government.
Apportionment is the process of determining how many representatives each state is entitled to.
Redistricting is the redrawing of boundary lines to create districts that are almost equal in population.
Individual states are responsible for adjusting the district boundaries after the Census Bureau sends them the necessary data. In Missouri, redistricting for the U.S. House of Representatives is done by the General Assembly, while redrawing Missouri's 34 state Senate districts and 163 state House districts [pdf] is the responsibility of two bipartisan commissions appointed by the governor.
The 2010 census redistricting process has been unusual in Missouri. Missouri will soon have eight representatives in the U.S. House of Representatives instead of nine because our population did not grow as quickly as that of other parts of the country during the last decade. The new district lines, which can be compared to the old on this map, will change only slightly in southwest Missouri but more drastically in other parts of the state.
On the state level, the new Missouri House district lines were created with little public dissension. However, the Missouri Senate Apportionment Commission failed to come to an agreement. The Missouri Supreme Court assigned a group of appellate judges to step in, but the map they drew was tossed out by the court. Finally, a second bipartisan commission created the latest Senate map. You can view the Tentative Senate Plan page on the Missouri Office of Administration website.
The maps indicate that St. Louis and Kansas City are the areas most affected by the proposed changes, but southwest Missouri would see some small differences, as well.
For updates on the status of the Missouri Senate debate and general state redistricting information, please see the Missouri Office of Administration's Redistricting Office.
The following news articles provide more information about the Missouri Senate issue:
Voting Matters is a series of articles written by Library staff to provide information and resources during the 2012 political season.