They say that every vote counts, but it’s not usually this literal: A vote on a local sales-tax increase in Columbia, Missouri will be decided this month by Jen Henderson, a 23-year-old college student.
Henderson is the only person eligible to vote on the increase because she is the only legal resident of the Business Loop 70 Community Improvement District (CID), the Columbia Tribune reports. That’s where the City Council is trying to push through a sales tax increase at the behest of the district’s business owners. Under state law, the increase must be approved by residents of the district, which mostly contains private businesses and buildings from the University of Missouri.
The CID’s organizers tried to carefully gerrymander its borders so that it wouldn’t include any actual voters, but somehow failed to account for Henderson. The vote was originally scheduled for August, but the electoral twist may push that date back.
Henderson is leaning against voting for the tax increase, the Tribune reported, after the CID’s director approached her to consider unregistering her vote, which she said was “pretty manipulative.” She also has concerns that the sales tax increase will hurt low-income people who buy groceries and other staples in the area, and that the CID director “is going to be making like $70,000 a year off of this whole deal.”
“[T]heir gerrymandering effort bit them in the behind,” wrote Tribune editor and publisher emeritus Henry Waters III in an editorial. “It produced exactly the wrong constituency.”