Power to the people: a plan for drawing voting districts

Published: Feb. 2, 2017 at 3:30 PM EST|Updated: Feb. 2, 2017 at 6:24 PM EST
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COLUMBIA, SC (WIS) - A plan is forming to take some power away from politicians and give more to voters with a bill filed in the South Carolina Senate Wednesday.

Under the reapportionment bill, lawmakers in the General Assembly would be removed from the process of drawing voting district lines. Citizens would be more involved in creating those boundaries.

It's Senate Minority Leader Nikki Setzler's (D- Lexington) bill. Setzler says elected officials ought to be separated from deciding the lines that form their constituents. Setzler adds that his idea could take the focus away from party politics—Republican or Democrat, and force lawmakers to work across the aisle to get things done under the dome.

"Well, I think times have changed. I think it takes politics out of the process, and that's huge. I think it puts power back into the hands of the people and the voters of South Carolina," Setzler says.

"It will drive bipartisanship where people have to work together more, to pass legislation," he says.

Race in gerrymandering is one issue that inspired the bill.

"I think that is only one factor which should be considered," Setzler says.

He believes races are often uncontested and new candidates do not always have a fair chance of becoming elected.

"I think it will also encourage additional people to run because the districts won't be drawn necessarily in favor of an incumbent. So, it'll encourage new people to run for political office," Setzler says.

The bill would create a commission to draw district lines. The Inspector General would appoint three people to a review panel who would then assign the nine commissioners.

Once the commission creates district boundaries every ten years when the census is released, maps of the plans would go on a referendum, for citizens to vote.

"Let them have the opportunity to know ahead of time, 'this is what your district will look like for House member. This is what your district will look like for your Senate member,'" Setzler explains.

If not passed, the matter would go to the Supreme Court.

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