COLUMBIA, S.C. — The South Carolina House has overwhelmingly passed their new district map, with just one procedural vote needed before sending it to the Senate.
The South Carolina House district map passed Wednesday 96-14.
Many representatives wanted to fast-track the map's approval, so there's as much time as possible between the redistricting process and the candidate filing deadline in March.
The South Carolina House election is in November 2022. Lawmakers said the time between releasing the new district map and the filing period is important so people can decide which district to run for, and for voters have an idea of who is running in their area.
It's overall the same map that was approved by the House Judiciary Committee recently, with a few minor changes in the Upstate and Lowcountry.
Some lawmakers, mainly Democrats, are unhappy with the outcome.
“We understand that Republicans have the majority," said Representative Wendy Brawley (D, Richland) to the House floor. "What we don't understand is how we can stand and say this is fair."
Brawley raised concerns of gerrymandering, claiming that some lines were purposely drawn to protect Republican incumbents.
However, others thought it was the best option given the state’s population shifts.
Representative Beth Bernstein (D, Richland) was on the House's redistricting committee. She told News19, "the map we have and that was approved today is, under the circumstances, the best that we could do.”
According to U.S. Census data, some areas in the Midlands lost population, or didn’t grow much. Representative Bernstein explained the result of that:
“The population in Richland County did not increase like some other counties: Charleston, Horry, York, so really we had enough population for 10 House members, and right now we have 11 House members,” explained Bernstein.
In other words, if the proposed map is signed into law, Richland County will lose a House seat due to the population shift to the coast. That means Representatives Wendy Brawley and Jermaine Johnson (D, Richland) may run against each other in the upcoming election.
The plan also collapses districts in Orangeburg and Kershaw Counties.
Bernstein explained that Rep. Vic Dabney (R, Kershaw) and Rep. Brandon Newton's (R, Lancaster) districts collapsed into one, so they may run against eachother in 2022.
Rep. Jerry Govan (D, Orangeburg) and Rep. Russell Ott's (D, Calhoun) districts have also merged into one.
“It was hard to figure out how to combine districts," said Bernstein. "It’s just unfortunate that some people will not be able to return just because of the nature of losing population.”
People and current representatives wanting to run in the 2022 South Carolina House election must file for candidacy in their district in March.
The House will return Monday, December 6 for one final vote on their map before sending it to the Senate. That same day, the Senate will begin debate on their South Carolina Senate district map.
The Senate is not on as much of a time crunch as the House, since their election is in 2024.
The House and Senate are expected to take up the U.S. Congressional district map in January.