Changes could be coming to the way South Carolina draws political maps

Changes could be coming to the way South Carolina draws political maps
One South Carolina organization says they have a plan to make elections more competitive in the state. (Source: WIS)

COLUMBIA, S.C. (WIS) - Right now in South Carolina, the state legislature is in charge of drawing political maps.

But that could change before 2021, when political maps will be redrawn after the results from the 2020 U.S. Census become available.

“If you ask the citizens who should draw the lines they say, ‘We should,’” Brett Bursey with the South Carolina Progressive Network said.

According to Bursey, they have a plan to make elections more competitive in South Carolina.

“What’s happened is the majority party has been allowed to draw districts they consider ‘safe,’” Bursey said.

The nonpartisan grassroots group is behind Fair Maps SC. According to their website, they are a citizen’s coalition to end gerrymandering in the Palmetto State. Bursey said the goal is to make sure elected officials represent all of their constituents.

“We’re in favor of districts where the person that wins has to represent people that don’t look or think just like them,” Bursey said.

Bursey said South Carolina has the least competitive elections in the country. They have helped lawmakers put forward legislation to create a South Carolina Citizens Redistricting Commission in charge of drawing maps instead of lawmakers.

“That commission would be voters and there would be qualifications they would have to have,” Bursey said.

The H.3432 and H.3390 bills each lay out guidelines the commission must follow in creating the new maps.

This isn’t the only proposal to change the way political maps are drawn in South Carolina. Representative Gary Clary (R-Pickens) fielded a bill that would create an independent redistricting commission. The governor, representatives, and senators would select six people to be on the commission. They cannot be elected officials. The group of six will then decide on a chairperson.

“People running for elections shouldn’t be picking their voters,” Rep. Clary said. “The voters should be picking their representatives. I think that’s what independent redistricting does.”

Rep. Clary’s bill has received bipartisan support in the House.

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