In South Carolina, congressional and state legislative lines are drawn by the state legislature and adopted as a regular statute that is subject to a gubernatorial veto.
Overall State Grade: D+
Racial gerrymandering in congressional redistricting: During the redistricting process, advocates in the state pushed legislators to ensure that a congressional district was preserved to ensure that Black voters had an effective opportunity to elect their preferred candidates. They also urged legislators not to pack Black voters in any given district or split them away from their communities of interest. However, in January 2023, a federal district court found that the state engaged in racial gerrymandering when enacting its congressional map.
Insufficient public input: Although the state legislature conducted some public hearings and there was opportunity for advocacy groups to submit draft maps, advocates noted that there was no clear indication of how input was received and integrated into legislative decision-making leading people to believe that the state legislature did not consider public input. While information on hearings was posted online, there were few other methods of dissemination, and often hearings were held only days after draft map proposals were released. Finally, most of the hearings conducted this cycle took place before census data was even made available, with more limited options during the actual line-drawing process.
- Some limited opportunities for public input existed: The state legislature did provide some opportunity for public testimony and input alongside public-facing websites and publicly released draft proposals. The state House Redistricting Committee alone conducted eleven public hearings before any plans were proposed. However, it was clear that the opportunities for the public to give feedback on drafted maps were insufficient, the timing precluded thorough public review, and many of the meetings did not provide remote options.
- Better outreach and public education are necessary: Although the state legislature had a public- facing website where information was posted, advocates noted that stronger outreach and public education were both necessary to ensure that community members had the tools to actually engage in the redistricting process.
- The state needs a more open process that actually incorporates public input: The first proposals released by the House Redistricting Committee came on December 13, 2021, and a hearing was scheduled only days later on December 16th. This is but one example of this redistricting cycle not providing sufficient opportunities for public review and input after draft maps were prepared. Advocates also noted that testimony calling on legislators to keep communities of interest together often was not taken into account. A more open process that clearly incorporates public testimony and input is necessary in future redistricting cycles.
- Start the education and outreach cycle sooner in the community: Advocates engaged in the redistricting process during this cycle in South Carolina noted that there needs to be stronger public education regarding redistricting to make sure that people understand what is at stake and to make sure that they stay engaged. By starting earlier in future redistricting cycles, this would provide more time to educate and engage the public.