JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (CN) – Missouri’s embattled redistricting process received another blow this week as citizens sued the secretary of state, claiming the map violates constitutional requirements that state House districts have similar populations and be contiguous and compact.
Five Republican voters, eight Democrats and an independent asked the Missouri Supreme Court to stop the new districts for the 163-member House from being used in this year’s elections.
The plaintiffs, who include former Republican and Democratic lawmakers, say one-quarter of the new House districts depart from the ideal population by at least 3 percent or 1,100 people. Some districts with too many people abut districts with too few, and six new districts are not contiguous because they cross rivers where there are no bridges, according to the complaint.
“If it is possible to draw a map with districts more nearly equal in population, the Missourians are entitled to such a map under the constitution,” according to a memo submitted in support of the complaint. “If it is possible to apportion the House without creating districts that span great rivers … the constitution entitles Missourians to such a map. And if it is possible to draw districts that do not meander across the map like marble rolling across a warped linoleum floor, the constitution requires that it be done to the extent possible.”
The new lawsuit adds more uncertainty as the 2012 election season gets under way. Earlier this month, the Missouri Supreme Court struck down new state Senate districts and ordered a further review of the U.S. House map. It ordered the Senate redistricting to start from the beginning.
If this latest challenge is successful, the whole process would have to start over from scratch.
The month-long window for candidates to file for office in the August primary and November general elections will begin on Feb. 28.