House begins a shadowy reapportionment process

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We have this report today from Lynn Teague, to whom we owe so much for her diligence in following this process:

Making Democracy Work in SC: House Redistricting Ad Hoc Committee meets

 The House held the first meeting of their Redistricting Ad Hoc Committee this morning, Tuesday, August 3, in Room 110 of the Blatt Building. The committee includes Chairman Jay Jordan, Jr., and representatives Bamberg, Bernstein, Collins, Elliott, Henegan, Brandon Newton and Weston Newton.

After a lengthy delay in starting, the committee discussed – without revealing – a schedule for public hearings on redistricting. The meetings will occur well after August 16 receipt of Census Bureau data and will end on October 4. In response to a question from the committee, Chairman Jordan indicated that the House will not allow virtual testimony from the public, despite growing pandemic conditions. Technical difficulties were cited as the reason.

Since the General Assembly is expected to return at a date (not yet announced) in October and vote on final maps, it seems likely that the House hearings will be focused on giving the public a look at the maps that the House committee has decided to propose.

The House public meetings will not address criteria because that was decided today without public input. The committee voted (with no discussion from any member) to adopt the previous House guidelines. I have attached those to this Update. Incumbent protection will continue to be an accepted criterion and indeed a priority.

We were told that the public hearing schedule will be posted at some time, possibly today but possibly later. Chairman Jordan suggested that the public look for the webpage link under the list of House Judiciary subcommittees at In 2011 the information was posted at, but at present that page is not available.


Lynn Shuler Teague

VP for Issues and Action, LWVSC

Note that there will be no virtual testimony from the public because of alleged “technical difficulties.” The public will get a look at the maps once the House has decided upon them. But don’t worry; everything is well in hand: “Incumbent protection will continue to be an accepted criterion and indeed a priority.”

So no worries, right?

Meanwhile, here are those guidelines reaffirmed without public input:

2011 (and now 2021) Guidelines and Criteria For Congressional and Legislative Redistricting

The South Carolina House of Representatives, the House Judiciary Committee, and the House Election Laws Subcommittee have the authority to determine the criteria that the South Carolina House of Representatives will use to create Congressional and legislative districts. Therefore, the Election Laws Subcommittee of the South Carolina House of Representatives adopts as its criteria these guidelines and criteria.

  1. Constitutional Law

Redistricting plans shall comply with the United States Constitution and the opinions of the United States Supreme Court.

  1. Voting Rights Act.

Redistricting plans shall comply with the Voting Rights Act of 1965, as amended. Pursuant to the Voting Rights Act of 1965, and in accordance with the opinions of the Supreme Court, race may be a factor considered in the creation of redistricting plans, but it must not be the predominant factor motivating the legislature’s decisions concerning the redistricting plan and

must not unconstitutionally predominate over other criteria set forth in these guidelines. The dilution of racial or ethnic minority voting strength is contrary to the laws of the United States and of the State of South Carolina, and also is against the public policy of this state. Accordingly, these criteria are subordinate to the Voting Rights Act of 1965, as amended, and the laws of the United States or of the State of South Carolina. Any proposed redistricting plan that is demonstrated to have the intent or effect of dispersing or concentrating minority population in a manner that prevents minorities from electing their candidates of choice will neither be accepted nor approved.

III. State Constitution and Laws.

Except as otherwise required by the Constitution and laws of the United States, redistricting plans also shall comply with the South Carolina Constitution and the laws of this state.

  1. Equal Population/Deviation
  2. The population of the Congressional and legislative districts will be determined based solely on the enumeration of the 2010 federal decennial census pursuant to the United States Constitution, Article I, Section 2.
  3. The number of persons in Congressional districts shall be nearly equal as is practicable. The ideal population for Congressional districts shall be 660,766. In every case, efforts shall be made to achieve strict equality or produce the lowest overall range of deviation possible when taking into consideration geographic limitations.
  4. The ideal population for a South Carolina House of Representatives district shall be 37,301. In every case, efforts should be made to limit the overall range of deviation from the ideal population to less than five percent, or a relative deviation in excess of plus or minus two and one-half percent for each South Carolina House district. Nevertheless, any overall deviation greater than five percent from equality of population among South Carolina House districts shall be justified when it is the result of geographic limitations, the promotion of a constitutionally permissible state policy, or to otherwise comply with the criteria identified in these guidelines.
  5. Contiguity

Congressional and legislative districts shall be comprised of contiguous territory. Contiguity by water is sufficient. Areas which meet only at the points of adjoining corners shall not be considered contiguous.

  1. Compactness

Congressional and legislative districts shall be compact in form and shall follow census geography. Bizarre shapes are to be avoided except when required by one or more of the following factors: (a) census geography; (b) efforts to achieve equal population, as is practicable; or (c) efforts to comply with the Voting Rights Act of 1965, as amended. Compactness may require the division of population concentrations when to do otherwise would mean dramatically altering the character of a district or would require tortuous configuration of an adjoining district.

Compactness will be judged in part by the configuration of prior plans. Particular reference will be made to prior plans implemented after the 2000 census because these configurations more accurately reflect the present realities imposed by the state’s most recent ongoing population shifts. Compactness will not be judged based upon any mathematical, statistical, or formula-based calculation or determination.

VII. Communities Of Interest

Communities of interest shall be considered in the redistricting process. A variety of factors may contribute to a community of interest including, but not limited to the following: (a) economic; (b) social and cultural; (c) historic influences; (d) political beliefs; (e) voting behavior; (f) governmental services; (g) commonality of communications; and (h) geographic location and features. Communities of interest shall be considered and balanced by the Election Laws Subcommittee, the House Judiciary Committee, and the South Carolina House of Representatives. County boundaries, municipality boundaries, and precinct lines (as represented by the Census Bureau’s Voting Tabulation District lines) may be considered as evidence of communities of interest to be balanced, but will be given no greater weight, as a matter of state policy, than other identifiable communities of interest.

It is possible that competing communities of interest will be identified during the redistricting process. Although it may not be possible to accommodate all communities of interests, the Election Laws Subcommittee, the House Judiciary Committee, and the South Carolina House of Representatives will attempt to accommodate diverse communities of interest to the extent possible.

VIII. Incumbency Protection

Incumbency protection shall be considered in the reapportionment process. Reasonable efforts shall be made to ensure that incumbent legislators remain in their current districts. Reasonable efforts shall be made to ensure that incumbent legislators are not placed into districts where they will be compelled to run against other incumbent members of the South Carolina House of Representatives.

  1. Priority Of Criteria
  2. In establishing congressional and legislative districts, all criteria identified in these guidelines shall be considered. However, if there is a conflict among the requirements of these guidelines, the Voting Rights Act of 1965 (as amended), equality of population among districts, and the United States Constitution shall be given priority.
  3. If application of the criteria set forth in these guidelines will cause a violation of applicable constitutional, federal, or state law, and there is no other way to conform to the criteria without a violation of law, deviations from the criteria are permitted. However, any deviation from the criteria shall not be any more than necessary to avoid the violation of law, and the remainder of the redistricting plan shall remain faithful to the criteria.
  4. Public Input

Subcommittee shall make reasonable efforts to be transparent and allow public input into the redistricting process.

26 thoughts on “House begins a shadowy reapportionment process

  1. Dave Crockett

    Technical difficulties:
    “There is nothing wrong with your television. Do not attempt to adjust the picture. We are now controlling the transmission. We control the horizontal and the vertical. We can deluge you with a thousand channels or expand one single image to crystal clarity and beyond. We can shape your vision to anything our imagination can conceive…”

  2. Brad Warthen Post author

    Lynn just sent out this addendum:

    Making Democracy Work in SC: House Redistricting Public Hearings

    A House Redistricting website is now active at:

    Note that virtual MS Teams participation will be available only during the final October 4 meeting. This virtual option is presumably open to persons from throughout the state. No information has been posted about public testimony sign-up procedures. It is likely that time allotted for individual testimony will be limited, especially during the short time available for virtual testimony, so those planning to participate should plan accordingly.

    There is usually provision for written testimony as well as oral. Citizens can write or call their own representatives with input on SC House districts and Congressional districts. We do not advise use of email; many legislators do not check their webmail or official public email accounts.

    Tentative Schedule
    September 8, 2021 6:00 pm – 8:00 pm
    Myrtle Beach
    Courtroom and Council Chambers of the Ted C. Collins Law Enforcement Center

    September 9, 2021 6:00 pm – 8:00 pm Florence
    Florence-Darlington Tech, SiMT Building

    September 14, 2021 6:00 pm – 8:00 pm
    North Charleston
    North Charleston City Hall – Council Chambers

    September 15, 2021 6:00 pm – 8:00 pm Low country area

    September 20, 2021 6:00 pm – 8:00 pm Aiken
    Aiken Tech Amphitheatre

    September 21, 2021 6:00 pm – 8:00 pm Greenwood
    Piedmont Tech – Medford Center

    September 22, 2021 6:00 pm – 8:00 pm Orangeburg area

    September 27, 2021 6:00 pm – 8:00 pm Upstate area

    September 28, 2021 6:00 pm – 8:00 pm Rock Hill
    Rock Hill City Council Chambers

    October 4, 2021 4:30 pm – 8:00 pm Columbia – Microsoft Teams accessible Blatt 112

    1. Barry

      My rep and state Senator are democrats.

      They have no power in this process with the GOP running the show.

      No reason for me to contact them.

      1. Brad Warthen Post author

        Barry, you’re wrong there.

        From what I hear, the Democrats are going along with what the Republicans are doing. Why? Because traditional gerrymandering does more than just make partisan politics more extreme. It also devotes itself, as an article of faith, to incumbent protection. That tends to include the incumbents of the minority party.

        This is why the gerrymandering sails through so easily. The majority members assure the minority incumbents — as individuals — that they will be taken care of as long as they don’t kick up a fuss. So they don’t.

        Why does the majority do this? Because it costs them nothing. It’s consistent with their goals. They tell the majority members they will make their districts even friendlier to them. How do they do this? By cramming more voters friendly to the minority into the minority incumbents’ districts, thereby making the majority districts even safer.

        The process corrupts everybody. And it will continue to do so as long as the most interested parties on the planet — incumbent officeholders — are allowed to run the process as their private preserve.

        Contact your rep and senator. Demand to know what they’re doing to change all this. They need to hear from you…

          1. Lynn Teague

            Yes, Brad is right. Redistricting is the most bipartisan thing that happens at the State House. One legislator told me earlier this week that a now retired House leader told members that it is just “every man for himself.” And so it is.

        1. clark surratt

          Good points, Brad.
          In effect, you describe how this all started. Back when the Legislature was 3/4 Democrats, they started carving out more and more black districts to satisfy legal and political claims at the time, but also to make it safer for some white Democrats.
          Then when the Republicans took over, all this got easier for Blacks and for the GOP. They did more bleaching and blackening to where you are now. The trade-offs you describe above are still working like a machine.

  3. bud

    In the last presidential election Trump won SC by roughly 12%. So in theory Republicans could draw 7 congressional districts that are reasonably safe GOP. It would be tricky but it could be done. So why do we currently have 1 safe Dem district (6th) 1 competitive (1st) and five fairly safe GOP? A couple things. First Republicans understand the risk involved in getting greedy. Without packing a district with Democrat voters they risk competitive battle in ou years. And second voters move. That has made the first district competitive. And the second district is becoming uncomfortably competitive for Joe Wilson. Suffice it to say the Republican Gerrymanderers have a challenge to draw safe districts that will persist over time as people move into the state and within the state.

    So what’s a party hellbent on power to do? The best strategy is to create safe districts early in the decade. Then they can work tirelessly to suppress those pesky Democratic voters. At its extreme this would grant the Republican general assembly the power to control how votes are counted. That’s the plan for Fulton County.

    What can be done? Very little at the state level. Even if they are motivated to do so Democrats have no power, none. Can voters write and/or their congressman? I suppose. We could also concoct some incantation that would magically make the general assembly see the light. Citizens really are helpless. This can ONLY be resolved at the federal level. Does congress have the will to act? Probably not. But getting Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema to get aboard the sane train is way easier to achieve than a successful letter writing campaign to your state congressman. But at least that won’t do any harm.

  4. Barry

    Today, Thursday

    Rick Hasen, Professor of Law and Political Science at the University of California, Irvine School of Law, and a “go to” elections expert for many national media organizations said today that he believes that in 2024 there is a good chance we will see a state legislature overturn an election in their state.

    1. Barry

      He added that Arizona could be that state since the legislature there did pass a law that said they had the power to throw out election results.

      1. Ken

        One post election analysis covered by the WashPost indicated that if the restrictions now either on the books or proposed had been law in 2020, Biden likely would have lost the election. And a more recent analysis indicated that had Biden won the election by 52 percent rather than the 52.3 percent he actually received, he would not have been elected.

        1. Barry

          Considering how many trumpers and conservatives out there regret January 6 because they didn’t use more violent means, nothing would surprise me.

      2. bud

        That is way scarier than Gerrymandering. The Dems need to step up at the national level so we actually have fair elections. Then more states need to get on board the popular vote contract. I don’t know if we survive another Trump presidency.

      3. Lynn Teague

        Having elections revert to state legislators to decide presidential elections would effectively be the end of our form of government. Since state houses are heavily gerrymandered, they can shape outcomes that are not at all consistent with the outcome of the public vote. It is a very frightening prospect.

        1. Barry

          Elections expert Rick Hasen didn’t say it in his piece but if a state legislature overturns an election I would expect we will see an actual bloodbath in the streets of that state – or others. It will make January 6th look like a birthday party at the local bowling alley.

          He did say he thinks a state legislature will overturn an election soon, 2024 being possible, but if not then, not long afterwards.

          1. Lynn Teague

            I am going to continue trying to defend the vote nonviolently and hope it does not come to that. Unfortunately my ancestors donated the family cannons used in the Revolution to be decorative pieces in the Orangeburg square, so my heavy artillery is in short supply. However, it is indeed unlikely that legislatures could take over the electoral vote and overturn an election without considerable violence occurring.

            1. Bryan Caskey

              “Unfortunately my ancestors donated the family cannons used in the Revolution…”

              This is a cool fact.

                1. Lynn Teague

                  Yes, Capt. Henry (originally Heinrich) Felder from Wattwil, St.Gallen , Switzerland (not Schumpfein as many mistakenly claim) was one of my 5 x gr grandfathers. I’m descended through his son Abraham, who served in his company during the Revolution. Henry’s parents died when he was a child but he was very successful as a farmer and businessman as an adult..

                  In Feb 1775 he was appointed by the Provincial Congress to serve on a committee to carry into execution in St. Matthew’s Parish the embargo on trade with Britain as recommended by the Continental Congress that met in the fall of 1774. He was Grand Jury Foreman in 1776 and is generally accepted as the author of the “Orangeburg Declaration” made by the Grand Jury on 20 May 1776. He wrote very fine English for someone whose native language was German-Swiss. He went on to be a captain of the Revolutionary War militia until he was killed by Tories in 1781.

                    1. Brad Warthen Post author

                      Indeed! I love learning stuff like that.

                      Lynn is one of the few here on the blog whose eyes do not roll when I talk genealogy. At least, I hope they don’t…

                    2. Lynn Teague

                      I definitely don’t roll my eyes. Family history is full of interesting people who make history come alive — 9 x gr grandfather Samuel West, one of the first people elected to public office in SC in 1670; 10 x gr grandfather Rev. John Lothropp, thrown in the Clink (the actual infamous prison) in London after a Star Chamber trial (real, not metaphorical) and then exiled to found the Congregational church on Cape Code; 10 x gr grand Clement Lanier, musician on wind instruments in the court of Charles I (that didn’t end well, although he survived). Then there are the more recent ones who lived on in family stories I heard as a child. Family history is fun, and a distraction from more immediate issues. it is also sometimes good for putting a bad day into perspective.

                    3. Brad Warthen Post author

                      Oh, I love stuff like that. I love finding the family connections, to be sure. Of course, those are tenuous when you get back a few centuries. I know that, but I still enjoy finding out what I can about these supposed 10th (and far more) great-greats and such, because even if I’m not as closely related as it appears, I just love learning the history through their lives.

                      Like just now. Near as I can tell, I’m in no way related to John Lothropp, but until just now I did not know about the historical roots of the term “clink.” And you know me — I find the family tree of a word nearly as fascinating as that of a person.

                      To my knowledge, none of my ancestors were ever locked up in the original Clink (although they probably were, if I knew more). I had a few locked up in the Tower of London, of course. (How many exactly, I don’t know. One of my great frustrations with Ancestry is that the database isn’t searchable that way.) And some never left there with their heads still attached.

                      I know of one who survived the experience — the elder Sir Thomas Wyatt, the man who introduced the sonnet to the English language. He was one of several men accused of having illicit relations with Anne Boleyn (his wife’s cousin, and therefore mine as well). But while those others lost their heads, Sir Thomas (or perhaps his father) was pretty tight with Thomas Cromwell. So he was allowed to live.

                      His son wasn’t so lucky. Thomas the Younger was the ringleader of Wyatt’s Rebellion against Bloody Mary, and he did lose his head — at the Tower.

                      Are they really my direct ancestors? I think so, but there’s a minority opinion out there (on Wikipedia, no less) that holds that a key link in the chain to them actually had different parents from the ones most sources give.

                      But even if there’s no relation — no CLOSE relation; all people of European descent are children of Charlemagne — I’ve loved learning about them…

                    4. Brad Warthen Post author

                      I’ve mentioned those guys before, and I think I’ve probably also mentioned what some might consider the moral of the story — if you get involved in a conspiracy against the monarch, don’t let them name the plot after YOU. It can be unhealthy…

            2. Barry

              I posted a response but for some reason it has disappeared. Odd.


              I think the likelihood of violence is quickly escalating.

              This weekend, a popular right wing figure who is a frequent guest on Fox News, and another very popular right wing radio show posted comments about how liberals that fail to adopt conservative viewpoints should be imprisoned. The guy is an attorney.

              He also advocated for property ownership and military service as requirements to be able to vote.

              Cleary he isn’t a supporter of the the US Constitution

              But this is what is gaining support quickly.

              In unrelated news, I read online that a right wing talk show host in Florida who had called COVID a scam, and attacked those that chose to wear face coverings and get vaccinated died from COVID over the weekend.

              He had also spent considerable time advocating for Dr. Fauci to be arrested and put in prison (that’s a frequent talking point of the right wing now).

              Per a few of his friends, he spent his last moments begging people to get vaccinated.

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