Filing opened Tuesday for county and state offices to be decided in August primaries and November elections. But boundaries have not yet been solidified for state House and Senate districts and Missouri’s congressional districts.
As a result, candidates may file for districts they are ineligible to represent.
This muddle was both foreseeable and avoidable, but lawmakers failed to avert the problem.
A brief reconstruction of the chain reaction is helpful.
As a result of the 2010 U.S. Census, districts must be redrawn to reflect changes in population.
Guidelines specify the groups and criteria to redraw districts, but those decisions were challenged in the courts.
With court challenges unresolved and the beginning of the Feb. 28 to March 27 filing period looming, lawmakers advanced a proposal to delay the filing period to March 27 to April 24.
But action on the bill stalled last week while senators squawked about a proposed new map.
If this latest leap into chaos sounds familiar, recall the legislature's special session when failure to reschedule Missouri's presidential primary resulted in a meaningless, taxpayer-financed popularity poll.
Lawmakers' inept inaction prompted officials on Monday to rush to Cole County Circuit Court in a last-ditch effort to clean up the mess by obtaining a court order to delay filing.
Judge Dan Green wisely refused and said: "The Circuit Court of Cole County does not run the state of Missouri — that's something for someone else to figure out."
You would think the legislative branch would have some idea of the separation of powers. You also would think it would exercise its role and responsibility to avert foreseeable chaos rather than plunge headlong into it.
Sometimes, we wonder.
Copyright Jefferson City News Tribune. Reprinted with permission.