Technology and Social Issues Converge at the Forefront
I come from the wonderful town of Springfield, Missouri. It has approximately a population of 200,000 and is the origin of wonderful institutions such as cashew chicken and Bass Pro shops. I even am part of the few who can claim that Brad Pitt is an alum of their high school and college. However, Springfield, and more largely, Greene County has been known as a bell-weather county in Missouri which has consistently been known as a bell-weather state. Needless to say, election season in the 417 is an exciting time had by all.
This past Tuesday, Springfield voted on an issue known as E-Verify. To sum up the issue, E-Verify was an initiative to strengthen labor laws on immigrants. E-Verify would require businesses to electronically verify the worker visas and green cards of all employees in the Springfield area. The city was very much at odds with this issue. In general, people in favor of the ballot initiative believe it is necessary for employers to check the legal status of immigrant workers before hiring them and those opposed to it believe that businesses should have the discretion to choose who they hire or do not.
Springfield, which is also known as the “Buckle of the Bible Belt” tends to have a generally conservative landscape on contentious issues such as immigration, however as the above link points out that Springfield’s political makeup makes more of a doughnut effect.
While there is a ring of mostly “red” voters, a “blue” hole shows up in the middle of the city. The middle of city consists of lower income areas which typically vote more liberally but also the collegiate population of Springfield. In the center of town you not only have students from both Missouri State Univeristy and Drury University where typically college students tend to vote more liberal and also, a wide range of faculty/staff and more highly educated residents will also vote progressively on issues.
The doughnut effect is very interesting as it doesn’t exactly split the town into a red side and blue side but rather shows the changing sociopolitical geography of Springfield, which catches my attention. Springfield is one of the fastest growing cities in Missouri and the conservative population being the outer ring is moving out towards the newer suburban areas that are also rising in socioeconomic level going from rural areas to highly residential areas.
Though E-Verify passed in Springfield (voter turnout was only 14.6 percent), it is more than likely it will be repealed since they are many areas of it that conflict with Missouri law. E-Verify is an example of how a mid-sized town like Springfield is becoming less homogenous and more diverse (yes, diverse) as it expands to areas such as Christian and Webster County.