Racial Gerrymandering in St. Louis County?
An order by U.S. District Judge Carol E. Jackson to redraw township boundaries throws St. Louis County right smack into the debate over so-called racial gerrymandering. Earlier this month Judge Jackson determined that St. Louis County's current township boundaries, drawn in 1992, violated the Voting Rights Act by diluting black voting strength; she gave the county 60 days, until mid-September, to create three townships, primarily in North County, each with a black majority of at least 60 percent. The decision should help blacks in the county achieve fairer representation.
In the county, townships are the basic units of political party organization. Each township is led by a committeeman and a committeewoman who are elected in the August primary in years when governors are elected. Committeemen and women, who work at the grassroots, are often the lifeblood of their parties; they are involved in a wide range of party activities, from endorsing and working for candidates to helping to get out the vote.
In 1992, the County Council drew the first new township boundaries in 20 years. In so doing, it increased the number of townships from 20 to 23; two new townships were in West County, one in South County. …