SC Senate sets criteria; asks for public redistricting maps

By Jeffrey Collins

COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) — Senators are asking the public to submit proposed maps on new districts in South Carolina based on the 2020 U.S. Census as a special House committee wraps up a series of public meetings on redistricting across the state.

Lawmakers are using the Census data to draw maps for the 46 state Senate districts, 124 state House districts and seven U.S. House districts.

Senate subcommittee on Friday approved criteria for drawing the districts, turning aside proposals from Sen. Dick Harpootlian to make districts as equal in population as possible instead of within 5% and to make protecting incumbents the least important priority.

“Whether we get back or not is up to how we represent our constituency, not how we drew our districts,” the Columbia Democrat said before his proposals failed to come up for a vote Friday.

The Senate called a special session starting Oct. 12 to deal in part with redistricting, but Senate Judiciary Chairman Luke Rankin told the subcommittee members the full maps might not be ready by then. The subcommittee set an Oct. 8 deadline for maps submitted by the public.

The House is still hearing from the public about what they should emphasize when drawing districts.

House ad-hoc committee will hold its last three meetings outside Columbia this week. The committee has five Republicans and three Democrats.

This week’s House hearings are Monday at the Aiken Tech Amphitheater in Graniteville; Tuesday at Piedmont Tech’s Medford Center in Greenwood; and Wednesday at Orangeburg Tech’s Roquemore Auditorium in Orangeburg. All meetings start at 6 p.m.

A similar Senate subcommittee already held 10 hearings across the state.

The two chambers usually don’t alter the other chamber’s map. Both chambers will work together on the U.S. House map.

The House has not indicated when it may hold a redistricting special session.

South Carolina added nearly 500,000 people from 2010 to 2020 to become the 23rd largest state in the U.S. with 5.1 million people, according to the Census.

Much of that growth was along the coast and the suburbs of Charlotte, North Carolina. Twenty-four of South Carolina’s 46 counties lost population, mostly in rural areas.

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