S.C. House approves new map in redistricting process
COLUMBIA, S.C. (WIS) - South Carolina is moving closer to the finish line of its months-long redistricting process.
The House of Representatives passed its new map Thursday in Columbia, updating the boundaries for the state’s 124 House districts.
The map was approved in a largely bipartisan 96-14 vote after less than two hours of debate at the State House.
Before then, a few House Democrats proposed changes to the map — which was close to the draft initially drawn by House staff and approved with smaller adjustments by the House Redistricting Subcommittee and Judiciary Committee — saying the final version is unfair.
“The map we have before us from the House Judiciary Committee is highly gerrymandered. That has been determined,” Rep. Wendy Brawley, D – Richland, said. “It highly protects — and, to the disadvantage of most Democrats and to the disadvantage of many minorities — it protects Republicans.”
Brawley proposed the House consider approving two other maps that had been submitted, one drawn by the NAACP and the other by the League of Women Voters of South Carolina, instead of the staff-drawn map that was ultimately approved.
Both of Brawley’s amendments were tabled, as were others from Democrat Jerry Govan that specifically focused on redrawing the lines in his home county of Orangeburg County, which he argued had been divided up too much.
“Are we going to destroy a community of interest, and if we’re going to do that in terms of cracking one of the most important regions of the state — if we’re going to crack that region, the question is why?” Govan asked in the chamber.
“Orangeburg still has four representatives. It’s four minority-majority districts,” Rep. Jay Jordan, R – Florence, said after the vote.
House members did approve some smaller amendments to the map, mainly so-called “clean-up” changes to keep towns and precincts whole and not split between districts.
Jordan, who chaired the House Redistricting Subcommittee, said the map that passed is fair and did not gerrymander or crack communities of similar interests.
“The committee, before the — to go through the entire process worked very hard, traveling across the entire state, taking testimony, looking at all the different proposed maps,” Jordan said. “We worked very hard to make sure that was not the case, and I feel very comfortable in saying that was not the case.”
Rep. Leola Robinson, D – Greenville, later made a motion to table the redistricting bill entirely to allow for more time for the process, as she said the lines under consideration at that point drew boundaries that would pit too many African-American incumbents against each other in the same newly-drawn districts.
Robinson’s motion was voted down, with Jordan noting earlier in the day that the redistricting processes for South Carolina and other states had already started months later than they normally would have because the census data needed to draw the new lines was delayed because of the pandemic.
The House voted to adjourn Thursday right after the redistricting vote, with members scheduled to return Monday at noon.
They will still need to vote on this map a final time, and then the Senate will need to approve the House map as well.
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