Elections should be decided in the voting booth, not the map room.
In 2021, following the release of the decennial census data, legislative district lines must be redrawn to account for population changes, so that each district includes approximately the same number of people.
Since 2012, the SC Legislature has declined consideration of bills creating an Independent Redistricting Commission for SC that would have protected against partisan or incumbent gerrymandering during this process. Over 15 states are now using some form of commission instead of having legislators draw their own lines.
In 2021, the League of Women Voters of South Carolina (LWVSC) will be drawing and submitting district maps to the public and to the SC Legislature for consideration. We hope to influence thinking in the General Assembly, but more importantly to encourage the public to understand the potential uses and abuses of the process and become engaged in speaking up on behalf of their right to a meaningful vote.
To help inform our process, the LWVSC is creating a Redistricting Advisory Committee (RAC) with the intention of having a transparent, nonpartisan process that considers diverse perspectives. The committee will be formed of between 9 and 13 members, who will collectively offer varying geographical and political viewpoints and represent a variety of communities of interest.
The RAC will meet virtually with the LWV Redistricting Workgroup three times with the following responsibilities:
- Review demographic changes and discuss potential impacts to voting districts
- Identify communities that may be particularly impacted by redistricting, and that may be vulnerable to impacts of gerrymandering
- Suggest ways to prioritize often-divergent map-drawing criteria to create a series of acceptable maps
- Analyze maps drawn by LWV experts in advance of submission and make recommendations for how to improve them
Criteria to be used to draw districts:
Beyond the legal redistricting requirements, which include maintaining compact and contiguous districts that comply with the Voting Rights Act, there is significant opportunity for manipulation in the map-drawing process that may disadvantage voters. The criteria we use, along with the maps we produce, will be made public.
We believe that criteria for the map-drawing process should exclude partisan and incumbent protection and should not be drawn with the intention of reducing competitiveness. District lines should avoid splitting counties and precincts when possible. The process of drawing district maps should be open and transparent, and include an avenue for meaningful public input.