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New SC Senate map moves district from Columbia to Charleston

Proposed South Carolina Senate districts
Proposed South Carolina Senate districts

A proposed map of new South Carolina Senate lines based on 2020 U.S. Census data moves one district from Richland County to faster growing Charleston County, but appears to keep most other senators in their current districts.

A committee of senators gave preliminary approval to the new map Thursday. They plan a public hearing on the new districts Nov. 12 and the entire Senate could consider redistricting at a special session in December.

The biggest change is taking the Senate district currently represented by Democratic Sen. Dick Harpootlian of Columbia and moving it to Charleston, South Carolina Senate Cartographer Will Roberts said.

The move happened as part of a cascade of tweaks to the maps as many rural and more Democratic districts either lost population or grew slower than the state as a whole from 2010 to 2020.

South Carolina added nearly 500,000 people over the decade, its population growing 10.7% to more than 5.1 million, according to the new U.S. Census population count.

But that growth was concentrated in areas like Horry County, Charleston and the rest of the coast, York and northern Lancaster County near Charlotte, North Carolina, and around Greenville and Spartanburg.

Fourteen of the 16 districts represented by Democrats in 2021 either lost population or failed to gain people as fast as the state average. That meant many inland districts between Columbia and the coast had to cover larger areas, eventually eating up that one district near Columbia.

For example, Democratic state Sen. Brad Hutto's district, anchored in Orangeburg County, was stretched north to include parts of Aiken and Lexington counties. The district lost its portion of Hampton and Colleton counties.

Districts in Horry and York counties and the Charleston region shrank in area.

The map keeps 19 mostly smaller, rural counties intact in one district, up from 11 counties in the 2010 map, Roberts said.

Union County and its 27,000 people is the smallest county in the state to be split into three districts.

“This is probably one of the hardest draws I’ve come across in many years,” Roberts said.