Rep. Hayes Talks About Redistricting

By Representative Jackie Hayes

If you peek into the offices of House members, you will likely see maps of our legislative districts spread across our desks. The process of redistricting, that legislative rite of passage that takes place every ten years, has just begun. Using data from the 2010 U.S. Census Count, legislators are discussing ways to change the boundaries of congressional and state legislative districts to make sure voters are not overrepresented or underrepresented.

Last week, we finally got a detailed look at the 2010 Census numbers for our individual House districts and the counties we represent. We already had seen the overall numbers for the state: 4.6 million people, which is 15 percent more people than a decade ago. We also learned that every district in the S.C. House of Representatives will need to be redrawn to encompass the “ideal” district of 37,301 people per district.

But until last week, we had not seen the detailed county and district Census numbers. According to the 2010 Census, Dillon County has a population of 32,062 an increase of 1,340 people during the past decade. District 55, which is my district, has a population of 34,048, which is 1,370 more people than counted in the 2000 Census.

Although District 55 and Dillon County showed growth, the boundaries of District 55 will still need to be expanded by 3,253 people in order to meet the new ideal district population. I will be working to ensure that communities and precincts are not split when the county’s new boundaries are drawn.

The S.C. Legislature is required by the S.C. Constitution to redesign the districts to ensure that the districts are roughly the same size. The number of districts in the state legislature will not change. There will still be 124 House districts and 46 Senate districts, but the boundaries will be modified to reflect changes in population.

The South Carolina legislature also will be changing the shape of Congressional districts. The state will need to add a new district, increasing the number of our Congressional delegates in Washington, D.C., from 6 to 7. There’s been much speculation that the new seat will be in Horry County. Many legislators from rural counties are trying to ensure that the new seat may be drawn in such a way to reflect the needs of rural South Carolina.

Meanwhile, the Senate and House committees handling redistricting have been sponsoring a separate series of hearings to seek public input. If you have been unable to attend any of these public hearings, I would urge you to send in a written statement to the House Judiciary Committee, Attention: Chief Counsel Patrick Dennis, 512 Blatt Building, P.O. Box 11867, Columbia, South Carolina 29211.

After the districts are redrawn, the redistricting plan must be approved by the S.C. General Assembly and the Governor and then get the okay from the U.S. Justice Department to ensure the plans do not hinder minority voting rights.

If you have any questions or comments, please feel free to contact me in Columbia at
803-734-3099, at 333D Blatt Building, P.O. Box 11867, Columbia, S.C. 29211 or call me at home at
843-774-6125, at 240 Bermuda Road, Dillon, S.C. 29536.

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