Census numbers determined that the state gets a new congressional district. That was the simple part. The process to name a new district is complicated and it starts in a state Senate Judiciary subcommittee. Senate Judiciary Chairman Glenn McConnell explains how it begins:
Around March the first we’ll get the official census data. We will begin loading our computers. We will appoint a subcommittee at that point. Then what we will do is go out across South Carolina and hold public hearings and ask people to come tell us what do they think should be the criteria we should use for drawing those maps.
McConnell’s office will introduce a website inviting public input, hoping to involve citizens more than ever before on the issue of adding a new congressional district.
We’ll also ask for their submissions. What they would like us to consider? Do you have submissions on map. We have a website open you can go to and get all this information. You can submit plans to us through the website. You can submit them here directly. And then what we’ll do, is we’ll take public testimony on that.
Senator McConnell says a special committee will take public input and draw up a plan. Then the state will be working under a tight timeframe:
Once we’ve drawn a plan, then it will come right here to the full Senate Judiciary committee, from there it will go out to the floor. Once it’s debated it’ll go to the House of Representative, come back to the Senate, go to the Governor’s desk, then it either has to go to the Justice Department for pre-clearance, or it’s got to go to the Federal District Court for the District of Columbia for pre-clearance under the voting rights act, and we got to get all of this done so the elections can go off on time next year.
McConnell says the process sets a tough schedule for some senators who will leave the chambers to attend public hearings at night and then be prepared for debate on major issues like the budget and government restructuring during the day. That is why he has admonished senators to deal with as many bills as they can early in the session.