Politics explained: It’s time for SC lawmakers to draw new district maps

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Published: Oct. 5, 2021 at 9:37 PM EDT
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COLUMBIA, S.C. (WIS) - The lawmakers who represent you in the South Carolina State House and on Capitol Hill could change soon.

With scheduled public hearings over for the state senators and representatives, elected officials are getting ready to start to redraw the state’s district maps.

What is redistricting?

Every 10 years, after the U.S. Census is taken, lawmakers redraw the district lines that control which representative will represent a certain part of the state.

“Redistricting affects all jurisdictions that have single-member elections, whether for members of Congress,  state legislatures,  county councils,  city  councils, school boards, etc. and seeks to equalize population among districts,” writes the SC Revenue and Fiscal Affairs.

Why should I care?

This process will decide who will represent your interests in the State House and in Washington.

What are the laws surrounding redistricting in SC?

While there are no laws in our state constitution specifically addressing redistricting, but federal laws are still enforced. In addition, the South Carolina House of Representatives and Senate redistricting committees each approve a set of guidelines.

Some of those for the Senate include:

  • Population equality
  • No racial gerrymandering or diluting minority groups voting power
  • Contiguity

“Folks come and say there is no law governing redistricting, well there are a lot of laws governing redistricting just not put in the form of state statute,” said Rep.Jay Jordan, chair of the SC House redistricting committee. “We certainly have as you may have seen the committee adopted the guidelines. The first principle is federal law, state law, and so forth from there. So there is a lot of law, case law, a precedent that has been established over the years regarding this. But it hasn’t necessarily been put in the form of a statue,” he added.

Will lawmakers just draw maps that are best for them?

Districts must be drawn in compliance with the principle of “one person, one vote.”

However, former SC Fair Share Program Director John Ruoff, who draws map proposals for the SC League of Women Voters says maps tend to favor lawmakers who are already in power.

“In South Carolina, the legislatures draw the maps. Were they drawn from some ideal perspective of having deeply studied communities of interests? Or were they drawn because legislatures were trying to be reelected?” Rouff said.

Rep. Jordan said the final maps will be fair.

“We are going to draw the lines that are legal and correct and best represent the people of South Carolina. If we were drawing lines just any old way or how we wanted or taking things into consideration that we shouldn’t consider there wouldn’t be a need to have 11 public input hearings,” Jordan said.

What did the U.S. Census show?

Over the past 10 years, South Carolina has grown by about 500,000 people. The parts of the state that grew the most were the suburbs to the south of Charlotte and cities along the coast.

How much have our maps changed over the years?

Just take a look at how the SC Congressional Districts have changed.

Is it too late to share my thoughts?

Not at all! You can reach out to your lawmaker about how you think the maps should be drawn.

Or submit your own proposals here for the House of Representatives and until October 8 here for the Senate.

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