Category Archives: Reapportionment

Teague: Math and Redistricting: Diagnosing a problem

The Op-Ed Page

An image from the presentation Lynn links to in the last graf.

An image from the presentation Lynn links to in the last paragraph.

By Lynn Teague
Guest Columnist

Brad drew my attention to an article in The Washington Post about mathematics and
redistricting. This brought to mind some important math about South Carolina’s current
legislative districts. The majority of South Carolina’s legislative districts are non-competitive in
the general election. The winning candidate is selected in the primary in June. This makes
November elections meaningless in many cases and encourages polarization, since highly
engaged and often extreme voters are especially likely to participate in primaries. It also seems
odd, since we know that in S.C. statewide races the majority party draws about 55% of the vote,
while they now control a super-majority in the Senate and House. The most common
explanation for this disparity in proportions is partisan gerrymandering.

However, you can’t fix a problem if you don’t know what the problem really is, and guessing
isn’t good enough. Even well-designed districts can look odd, and gerrymandered districts can
look okay. An eyeball test isn’t enough. So, League of Women Voters of South Carolina board
member Matthew Saltzman supervised a Clemson grad student thesis to evaluate whether our
districts meet mathematical tests of partisan gerrymandering. Anna Marie Vagnozzi used a test
originally employed in the 2017 case League of Women Voters v. Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. Vagnozzi generated millions of maps and found that the current S.C. maps do not fall at the extremes of the resulting distribution and do not seem to have been pushed to extremes by partisan bias. Instead, they fall very much where the presumably fair post-litigation Pennsylvania maps do.

So, why are South Carolina’s maps so non-competitive? Some of this arises from demography.
South Carolina retains a significant level of racial polarization in voting, so the tendency of black
voting-age populations to be concentrated in some areas, especially urban centers, is a major factor. Votes are wasted when a group of voters are clustered together in such high numbers that their district would have been won by the same party without many of them. White populations are more evenly distributed throughout the state and this provides an automatic electoral advantage, giving them greater voting strength with fewer votes wasted.

The other big factor is incumbent protection. Incumbents of both parties have engineered their
districts to be “safe.” They have amplified the differences caused by demography to create even
more extreme differences by carefully choosing their boundaries to include neighborhoods favorable to them and exclude others. This bipartisan process, repeated through successive redistricting cycles, has led to some excessively predictable districts. (Bipartisanship is not always the Holy Grail of good politics.)

A very recent presentation on redistricting in South Carolina is posted on-line at the League website. It includes maps of our noncompetitive districts as well as a short summary of Vagnozzi’s research and discussion of where we are in the redistricting process.

Lynn Teague is a retired archaeologist who works hard every day in public service. She is the legislative lobbyist for the South Carolina League of Women Voters.

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 www.scstatehouse.gov. In 2011 the information was posted at www.redistricting.schouse.gov, but at present that page is not available.

Lynn

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.

Missing the point on gerrymandering

The_Gerry-Mander_Edit

As y’all know, I’m no fan of Identity Politics. Often, though, I seem to fail to explain why to the satisfaction of all my readers. Let me try again.

Today, I eagerly called up an op-ed piece in The Washington Post that was headlined, “The voting fix that cannot wait: Stopping partisan gerrymandering.” I did so harrumphing to myself, Yes, yes, quite right…

But it wasn’t quite right at all. The writer seemed to fail to understand why gerrymandering is a problem, one that is perverting our politics and tearing the country apart. He starts out this way:

The recent wave of voter suppression laws has rightly drawn much attention. But another, even more pernicious wave of anti-voter laws will begin shortly: the redrawing of congressional maps. Unless Congress acts quickly, Americans are on the verge of some of the most aggressive gerrymandering in the country’s history. Inevitably, communities of color, which provided almost all of the country’s growth over the past decade, will bear the brunt of this anti-democratic line-drawing….

His misconception of the problem with the way we redistrict wasn’t confined to his lede. He kept coming back to it again…

Such a ban — along with beefed-up remedies for abuses and uniform standards for drawing maps, including strengthened protections for communities of color — would amount to the most consequential federal redistricting legislation in history….

And again…

What can we expect going forward? In the South, where most of the redistricting hot spots are located, gerrymanders historically have come at the expense of communities of color. This cycle could be even worse….

And again…

Federal legislation would transform how congressional districts are drawn, stepping in where the Supreme Court has stepped out, to restore fairness to the process and strengthen frayed legal protections for communities of color. It also would make it easier and faster for voters to challenge politically or racially discriminatory maps in court, and for the first time require meaningful transparency in a process that historically has taken place behind closed doors….

“Color” appears five times in the piece. Worse, there’s not a mention of “extremism” or “radicalization.” Which, of course, is the real problem with letting the party in power draw the lines for the next decade’s elections: It not only turns primaries into the real election, but causes those primaries to be contests to see which candidate can best appeal to the most committed extremists — the most loyal voters in such party contests. And election after election, the incumbents go farther and farther out on the wings in order to chase away nuttier opponents in the next primary. The members of the two parties give up talking across the aisle, and our republic falls apart.

And if you make the conversation about race, you help them do it. We’ve seen this in every reapportionment since 1990. That’s when Republicans discovered that if they draw a few more “majority-minority districts,” they can create a LOT more unnaturally white districts. Herding all the minorities into (as we’ve seen in South Carolina) a single congressional district, for instance, guarantees that the rest of the state’s delegation will be (with the occasionally brief exception such as the one we saw in the 1st District from 2018 to 2020), fully Republican.

And in election after election, the incumbents and certainly their challengers get more and more extreme. As we saw during the Tea Party and Freedom Caucus stages, leading to the insanity of Trumpism. And now we have a crowd lining up to toss out Tom Rice for the sin of failing to worship the idiot who is their master with sufficient ardor.

Bottom line, if you make it about race, you not only fail to address the real problem, but you can make it worse. As we’ve seen.

What we need is diverse districts — diverse in ways that go far beyond the superficial measure of the color of voters’ skins — that reflect entire, real communities. Not “communities of color” (which apparently is this column writer’s favorite phrase) or communities of ideological nutballs, but true communities that include all people, and elect representatives who try in good faith to serve all of those people.

That’s the only way to save the country from gerrymandering…

Lynn Teague: And so it begins… redistricting South Carolina

The Op-Ed Page

newest 7.20.21

EDITOR’S NOTE: As I’ve said so many times, there is no one more important thing we could do to reform and reinvigorate our democracy than to end the scourge of partisan gerrymandering. And it’s hard to imagine any task more difficult. So, when I got an email from our friend Lynn Teague telling me the Senate was about to start work on reapportionment, I was assured to know she would be riding herd on the process, and asked her to write us a situationer. I’m deeply grateful that she agreed to do so…

By Lynn Teague
Guest Columnist

The Senate Redistricting Subcommittee will hold its first meeting to begin the process of redrawing South Carolina’s legislative district boundaries on July 20, and the House is planning its first meeting on August 3. The redistricting process, held every ten years to adjust legislative districts to changes in population, is required by the U. S. Constitution. It is among the most important political processes in our system of government, but one that the public often ignores. The impact isn’t immediately obvious without a closeup look, and a closeup look can easily leave citizens confused by technical details and jargon. The nonpartisan League of Women Voters wants to see that change. We intend to do all that we can to demystify and inform the public and encourage participation.

Lynn Teague

Lynn Teague

Why should you care? Gerrymandering is designing district boundaries so that the outcome in the November general election is a foregone conclusion. At present South Carolina is not heavily gerrymandered by party (although there are surely those who would like to change that in the upcoming process). It is, however, very noncompetitive. The map of Senate districts shows how many voters had no real choice at the polls in November 2020. Why is this? Sometimes it is because the population in an area is very homogenous and any reasonable district that is drawn will lean predictably toward one party or the other. However, too often the problem is incumbent protection. This is a game that both parties can and do play, carefully designing districts to make them easy to win the next time around. Because of this obvious temptation, the United States is the only nation that allows those with an obvious vested interest in the outcome to draw district boundaries.

The other major impact of designing very homogenous districts is that it feeds polarization. Representatives are able to remain in office by responding only to the most extreme elements of their own parties, those who participate enthusiastically in primary elections, and ignore the broader electorate. When you call or write your senator or representative and get no meaningful response, this is often the reason. He or she doesn’t have to care what you think. When you wonder why our legislators take positions that are more extreme than those of the South Carolina electorate as a whole, this is why. They are looking out for themselves in the primary election. They don’t need to be concerned about your vote in November.

What can you do? The League of Women Voters hopes that citizens across the state will participate in public hearings, write to their own representatives and senators, and urge representatives not to distort districts to protect incumbents or parties. Both Senate and House will hold public meetings across South Carolina to solicit comment on how redistricting should be done. The dates for these meetings have not been announced.

The League of Women Voters of South Carolina will be hearing from our own group of independent experts in our League advisory group, will present our own maps, will testify in public hearings, and will encourage members of the public to participate. Everyone can follow along as we present information that is needed to understand and participate on our website at www.lwvsc.org. Click on “Redistricting: People Powered Fair Maps for South Carolina.” There you can also subscribe to our blog, VotersRule2020. Follow @lwvsc on Twitter and “League of Women Voters of South Carolina” on Facebook. Our theme is #WeAreWatching. Everyone should watch along with us, and let their legislators know that they shouldn’t make the decision about who wins in November.

Lynn Teague is a retired archaeologist who works hard every day in public service. She is the legislative lobbyist for the South Carolina League of Women Voters.

Supreme Court pulls a Pontius Pilate on gerrymandering

court

By which I mean, of course, that they have washed their hands of any responsibility for the single problem doing the most to divide our country and destroy our constitutional system:

I’ve got to go get some work done, but I thought I’d establish a place for talking about this shocking development.

As Kagan said in her dissent, “The practices challenged in these cases imperil our system of government. Part of the court’s role in that system is to defend its foundations. None is more important than free and fair elections.”

Sending it to the states — that is to say, the legislatures who created the problem and are highly motivated to perpetuate it — is indeed, as Harry Harris said, the fox guarding the henhouse.

What are we going to do as a country?

Gerrymandering, South Carolina-style

SC 6th Congressional District

Yesterday, we discussed this Supreme Court ruling:

The Supreme Court ruled Monday that North Carolina’s Republican-controlled legislature relied on racial gerrymandering when drawing the state’s congressional districts, a decision that could make it easier to challenge other state redistricting plans.

The decision continued a trend at the court, where justices have found that racial considerations improperly tainted redistricting decisions by GOP-led legislatures in Virginia, Alabama and North Carolina. Some cases involved congressional districts, others legislative districts.

The states contended that their efforts were partisan moves to protect their majorities, which the Supreme Court in the past has allowed, rather than attempts to diminish the impact of minority voters, which are forbidden….

The states argued that way because, bizarrely, our courts decided long ago that it was OK to stack districts to elect members of this or that party, or to protect incumbents — which to me has always seemed an abdication of the judiciary’s responsibility to check the power of the legislative branch. If lawmakers can perpetuate their personal holds on their districts, how is that unlike inherited titles, or the “rotten boroughs” that Britain did away with in 1832? But that’s just me.

I’d like to see the court take a good look at South Carolina next, if it gets the opportunity.

It should start with the 6th Congressional District, which is where GOP strategy in drawing congressional lines begins. Since 1990, our lawmakers have packed as many black voters into it as possible, so as to make our other six districts whiter and more likely — in practice now, virtually certain — to elect Republicans.

The trick, of course, will be proving a racial intent, since race and partisan leaning are so closely related. I don’t think our Republican representatives would care whether their constituents were black, white or green, as long as they voted for Republicans. But as we know, even if you drew the lines purely by voting patterns and didn’t have racial data available, if you draw a reliable GOP district, it’s going to very white.

The fact that it ends up that way can’t really be disputed — although the 5th and 7th districts “look like South Carolina” being 66.7% and 65.4% white respectively, they don’t look much like districts that include part of, or border on, the Pee Dee. And the other four GOP districts are whiter, with the whitest being the 3rd, at 76.9%.

I gleaned these figures from Wikipedia:

  • 1st — 74.8% white
  • 2nd — 69.5% white
  • 3rd — 76.9% white
  • 4th — 76.2% White
  • 5th — 66.7% White
  • 6th — 57.0% Black (40.8% White)
  • 7th — 65.4% White

At a glance, the 6th doesn’t look all that gerrymandered, until you focus on that crazy indentation that excludes the white suburbs of Charleston. And then you notice how, all along the coast, the rest of the southern border of the district goes almost, but not quite, to the beach — thereby drawing out the affluent white beaches while retaining the poor, black parts of those counties on the inland side of the Intracoastal Waterway.

Then there’s the weird little projection into Columbia at the top — which looks even more bizarre when you see what it fits into: an odd hook-like structure on the 2nd District map (below) that gives all of Columbia’s white suburbs to Joe Wilson.

Thus, Jim Clyburn is free to be the sort of Democrat that closely allies himself with Nancy Pelosi and know he’ll never lose his seat while he still wants it. And Joe Wilson, a Republican of an earlier time, is safe as long as he hangs on tight to the ears of whatever wild ideological beast is rampaging through his party at a given moment (yelling “You Lie!” helped with that, as inconsistent as it was with his personality).

It doesn’t really matter whom Republicans nominate in the 6th District, or whom Democrats find to put up in the 2nd. There are no choices to be made here.

And that’s very, very bad for our Republic.

You can see the same thing repeated again and again if you study state legislative districts. But this is the one that’s easiest to see.

SC 2nd Congressional District

The end of gerrymandering? Depends how bad you want it…

You may have thought the Supreme Court did some big stuff last week.

Pshaw.

The ACA ruling? It maintained the status quo. Nothing changed, nothing to see. Move along.

The same-sex marriage ruling? Aw, who was really surprised by that?

Today, in the midst of several other rulings — the Court seemed to be tossing them out like Mardi Gras revelers throwing beads to the kids — the justices did something significant, something that could potentially solve most of the things that are wrong with politics in America:

A divided Supreme Court on Monday said voters concerned that partisan gerrymandering is creating unfair elections are entitled to take reapportionment away from state legislatures.

The court ruled 5 to 4 that the Constitution does not give legislatures exclusive control over congressional redistricting and said voters may vest the power in independent commissions by ballot initiative, where this option exists.

“The animating principle of our Constitution [is] that the people themselves are the originating source of all the powers of government,” Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg wrote for the majority….

If you don’t know what this means, I’ll tell you: No more districts drawn to serve political parties rather than the nation. No more parties getting more and more extreme because all incumbents have to fear is a primary opponent who is more extreme than they are, since general elections don’t matter. Maybe, maybe even no more creating one majority-minority district by drawing all the ones around it super-white (there are other barriers to changing that, though — I think).

Competitive elections between sensible centrists! How wonderful!

But wait! How does one take this power away from partisan legislatures? Oh… with a ballot initiative.

Dang.

So… you’re saying we have to kill representative democracy to improve it? Because that’s what government by ballot initiative amounts to. No, thanks. Dang.

Hey! Maybe, with enough pressure, lawmakers could be persuaded to give up the power themselves. Impossible, you say? Yes, well, I would normally say the same. But I just saw the political leadership of South Carolina decide to take down the Confederate flag, so pretty much anything is looking possible to me right now.

At least let me dream…

SCOTUS has a chance to undo madness of drawing districts according to race

In my last post, I discussed how hopelessly uncompetitive elections for the U.S. House are.

That’s because of the way legislators have drawn the districts, to make each one “safe” for one party or the other. In the South, and especially in South Carolina, that has involved Republican majorities drawing a few super-safe districts for black Democrats, while making the districts around them even safer for white Republicans — and ensuring GOP majorities in statehouses.

Thus far, the courts have allowed this sort of thing. Next week, the U.S. Supreme Court has a chance to change that:

… But the Supreme Court has decided to step into this one and will hear arguments in the matter next week. The justices are being asked to find that, as has happened many times in Alabama’s history, race played an improper role in how the state was reapportioned.

But the essence of the allegation is not that Republicans made it too hard for African American candidates to be elected. It’s that they made it too easy.

The challengers said the mapmakers packed African American voters into districts where they already enjoyed a majority, diluting their power elsewhere and easing the way for white Republicans to win everything else.

A three-judge panel that examined the 2012 redistricting process ruled 2 to 1 that the plan enacted by Alabama was constitutional and said the legislature’s intentions were not improper.

The challengers — black elected officials and the Alabama Democratic Conference — alleged that the plans “were the product of a grand Republican strategy to make the Democratic Party the ‘black party’ and the Republican Party the ‘white party,’ ” wrote Judge William H. Pryor Jr. of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit. “The record does not support that theory.”,,,

The good judge must not be looking at the record closely enough.

Here’s hoping the Supremes see the situation more clearly. If so, the nation could take a step back toward having actual choices in the fall. And a step away from the madness of election legislators and members of Congress who see themselves as elected entirely by people of one race or the other. Which has never been a healthy thing for our republic.

Just how uncompetitive the U.S. House elections are

house map

Click on the map above to go to a page where you can interact with it, and explore just how few House districts across the nation are competitive. It’s accompanied by various other charts that show graphically just how stacked the deck is across the country.

The dark red and dark blue districts are settled, foregone conclusions, thanks to the awful miracle of modern redistricting algorithms, which enable Legislatures to draw districts so that they are guaranteed to go for one party or the other — so that the only real contests are in primaries, which have the effect of pulling both parties farther and farther from the political center. The only thing most members of Congress fear is primary opponents who are more extreme than they are.

Of course, we know that there is no chance for the minority party in any of South Carolina’s seven congressional districts. That’s because ever since the redrawing that occurred after the 1990 census, the 6th District has been drawn as a super-extreme “majority-minority” district. I remember Jim Clyburn saying, way back in the 90s, that he didn’t really need his district to be gerrymandered to the extent that it was in order to win. Well, since then, if anything, our GOP Legislature has been even more generous with the state’s one Democratic congressman.

Why? because every black voter they can shove into Clyburn’s district makes the other six districts that much safer for Republicans.

This is, after all, how they came to power in the Legislature to start with. Black Democrats were unsatisfied with the number of majority-minority districts Speaker Bob Sheheen and the other white Democrats were willing to draw after the 1990 census. So they joined forces with the Republicans to pass a plan that created more of them — and consequently made the surrounding districts whiter, and more Republican.

And abracadabra — we had a Republican House, and Sheheen wasn’t speaker anymore. And a few years later, the Senate followed suit. And the Black Caucus got a few more members, but they were now all in the minority party, which meant the caucus had traded away much of its ability to get anything done once elected.

But I digress….

The larger issue nationally is that voters no longer have a viable choice in general elections for Congress. Which is a terrible thing to have happened to our representative democracy.