Constitution Week event tells the story of Bob Dole

Illustration not representative of actual district lines. (Illustration by Wren Johnson / The Sunflower)

To start the week-long celebration of Constitution Day, Neal Allen, political science associate professor and department chair, told the story of Bob Dole, a former Republican U.S. Senator, and how he stayed in office. 

Redistricting Kansas was the topic of the day. Allen demonstrated how a politician can draw redistrict lines in their favor by diving into the history of Dole. While many other Republicans lost their elections, Dole continued to maintain his.

“In Kansas, the interesting part is how our state was just Republican enough to preserve the career of Bob Dole long enough for him to become a national politician,” Allen said.

By limiting the number of voting districts, Dole and other Republicans were able to keep Democrats from winning the elections. Dole also took sides on issues, such as Roe v. Wade, to get voters interested in his cause. 

Kansas often loses district lines due to how many people are voting in each district. Compared with other states, Kansas is seen as stagnant and this determines the number of districts and voters the state has. Sometimes the counties are even split into pieces because of redistricting. 

Allen left the floor open for questions after the presentation and many of the questions were based on how these districts look today. Allen said the districts changed and pulled up several maps to show the difference between past districts and current ones.

“In the United States, politicians get to set the rules for their own reelection, and it is worth it for citizens to pay attention to that rule-setting process and try to figure out ways to get involved in the short term and try to support long term reform,” Allen said.