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Redistricting plans face busy week in South Carolina

Jerry Govan redistricting
Jeffrey Collins/AP
FILE - South Carolina Rep. Jerry Govan, D-Orangeburg, looks over a map during a House redistricting committee public hearing on Wednesday, Nov. 10, 2021, in Columbia, S.C. Govan was put into a district with another incumbent in the proposed House map.

South Carolina's work to draw new districts after last year's U.S. Census should get closer to completion this week.

On Monday, the state Senate committee handling redistricting will hold a public meeting about its proposed U.S. House maps released last week.

Then on Wednesday, the full House returns to the Statehouse to take up their 124 redrawn districts.

Preliminary analysis of the U.S. House maps from senators show the state would likely continue to elect six Republicans and one Democrat to the U.S. House with the new districts, which must be approved by the entire Senate and House and survive any legal challenges.

Some changes had to be made because South Carolina added more than 500,000 people over the past 10 years.

The biggest changes are around Charleston, where the Republican-controlled coastal 1st District — which gained significant population — swapped some areas with the more rural Democratic 6th District.

The changes put more likely Republican voters in the 1st District, which had a Democratic representative from 2019 to 2021.

The South Carolina League of Women Voters said that, under the Senate proposal, GOP candidates would win with at least 55% of the vote in the six districts where Republicans currently serve.

Democrats said the proposal may trigger a legal challenge because of the way neighborhoods and other areas were split to get more white voters into the 1st District.

On Wednesday, the House is set to come back into session for the first time in five months to deal with their maps, which have been heavily criticized.

The newly drawn districts appear to be more focused on protecting incumbents and Republicans than keeping like-minded communities intact, according to the South Carolina League of Women Voters.

An analysis of the proposed House districts by the Princeton University's Gerrymandering Project determined they would likely see 83 Republicans elected — two more than the GOP's current advantage among the 124 seats.

The full Senate plans to come back in special session on Dec. 8 to debate the U.S. House and state Senate district plans.

Filing for the new districts is in March, with primaries set for June.