The process of creating a new congressional district in South Carolina continued last night in Sumter with the second in 10 public hearings across the state. Last night’s hearing focused on Clarendon, Kershaw, Lee, Sumter and Williamsburg counties.
A group of about 30 community leaders and citizens attended the meeting with several individuals taking to the podium to make comments and suggestions.
One theme that came up several times was that of not splitting up the communities and precincts into different districts.
Chairman of the Sumter County Republican Party, Braden Bunch added:
When we consider not splitting precincts within state house or state county or state senate seats, I also suggest that you consider starting to not try to split the state senate seats and congressional seats.
The theme of avoiding splits to precincts was mentioned again by Jonathan Bryant, attorney for the City of Sumter. Bryant’s recommendation was made to avoid confusion during the election process.
On behalf of the people that run the election commission, people who are trying to instill confidence in government, are asking that you avoid splits as much as possible. If it’s impossible that’s fine. But these numbers that you have, 100-thousand, 600-thousand, I think that if you can avoid the splits. I think that you can maintain the communities of interest and some of the other positives protect.
Sumter Branch NAACP President Ferdinand Burns was among those who addressed the subcommittee:
We just want it to be fair. If it’s not fair, then of course the NAACP will take action. We believe that South Carolina can be a great state, but South Carolina is going to have to learn to do it right.
James Feldon represents the South Carolina Voter Education Project. Feldon said he once assisted with redrawing the lines some years ago and he recommends the process includes a focus on diversity.
I am concerned about diversity, not only from an African-American standpoint, but from a Hispanic standpoint as well. So, fair and balanced, that’s a good phrase, and if we exercise it and follow through with it, then this reapportionment should go smooth.
The statewide forums are being held to better inform residents about the state Legislature’s task of using U.S. Census data to redraw state and national representation lines. This was the second in a series of 10 statewide public hearings. A full schedule of meetings are being held next week: Monday in Beaufort, Tuesday in Aiken, Wednesday in Rock Hill and Thursday in Greenville.
Additional information is available regarding the public hearings, including maps and directions on the Senate Redistricting website.