Candidate filing for the August primary election will open Tuesday, but Missouri's congressional districts and state Senate districts are still up in the air.
Candidates running for public office and participating in the August primary election can begin officially filing their candidacy with the Missouri Secretary of State's Office at 8 a.m. Tuesday.
Representatives from political parties and the Missouri Department of Revenue will be present at the Secretary of State's Office on opening day to provide candidates with required documentation if they don't have it already.
Candidates are required to have proof of ID, a filing fee receipt from a political party and an affidavit filed with DOR to show they don't owe the state taxes, unless they are running for U.S. Congress.
Congressional candidates could face a different challenge, however, as the districts they would represent are not yet decided.
The Missouri General Assembly is responsible for creating congressional districts following the U.S. Census every 10 years. After the COVID-19 pandemic delayed census results to states, the Missouri House approved a map last month that maintains Missouri's current 6-2 representation in Washington but without an emergency clause wouldn't go into effect until August.
The House map then moved to the Missouri Senate, which passed it out of committee with an emergency clause to solidify the districts as soon as the legislation was signed into law. Members of the Senate conservative caucus then delayed the map from coming up for a vote by holding the floor for several days hoping to pass a 7-1 map. Senate leadership tabled the redistricting discussions to allow other legislation to be considered, leaving congressional districts currently unclear.
The Senate will not be back in session until 2 p.m. Tuesday.
Missouri's Senate districts, half of which are up for re-election this year, are also undetermined.
The Senate Independent Bipartisan Citizens Commission failed to agree on a map by the December deadline, shifting the responsibility of deciding state Senate districts to a panel of six judges.
The Judicial Redistricting Commission was supposed to conduct its first public hearing Thursday, but it was postponed because of a winter storm.
Candidate filing closes at 5 p.m. March 29.
Sen. Mike Bernskoetter, R-Jefferson City, chairs the Senate Redistricting Committee and has filed a bill to move the candidate filing deadline from March 29 to April 5. The bill remains in committee.
JoDonn Chaney, a spokesperson for the Secretary of State, said the chief election officer hasn't been inundated with calls confused about the districts and the state has been in this type of situation before.
Chaney said candidates will file under the state's current maps and the Secretary of State's Office will adhere to any new filing deadlines or maps approved by the General Assembly and Judicial Redistricting Commission.
"We have maps, they're maybe not updated based on the census, but we have maps and candidates will file based on the districts that they have," he said.
Candidates must list their place of residence when filing their declaration of candidacy, but Chaney said the Secretary of State's Office doesn't necessarily check if candidates are eligible to run for the office they file for but rather just certifies they have the required documents.
According to the Secretary of State's Office, it's the candidate's responsibility to know if they are qualified to run for the office they are seeking.
If a candidate ends up filing to run for office but doesn't live in the district they are running for, Chaney said, it would be up to someone else, not Secretary of State Jay Ashcroft, to challenge the candidate's qualifications in court.
"If there was a challenge, it would not be brought or verified by the Secretary of State's Office, it would be done through a challenger, an opponent, that sort of thing," Chaney said.
"Even if there was evidence, the Secretary of State's Office has no jurisdiction in that," he continued.
Chaney encouraged candidates with questions to contact the Secretary of State's Office.