State Senate President Pro Tempore Glenn McConnell (R-Charleston), says the U.S. Department of Justice is dragging out its process of approval, known as preclearance, for the state Senate’s redistricting plan. He filed a suit Friday with a federal court asking for their approval of the new maps [Redrawn SC Senate district map PDF].
Updated census numbers required the SC Senate to redraw its districts. Senate passed and submitted its new maps at the end of the 2011 legislative year and the DOJ is asking for more information on District 17, which currently covers parts of York, Fairfield and Chester.
What may have gotten the attention of the Justice Department is a drop in the percentage of African Americans of voting age in District 17, from about 48.56 percent to 40.7 percent in the new plan. Much of that is attributed to population shifts and growth, say Senate leaders on both sides of the aisle.
Sen. McConnell says the Senate version is a fair one and has filed the lawsuit with a U.S District Court ” to ensure that 2012 elections go forward in a timely manner, I believe it is in the best interest of the Senate to file this action.”
McConnell contends that the Justice Department’s request came on the last day of the 60-day review period, and extends the time the DOJ has to either grant or deny preclearance for the Senate districts by 60 days.
McConnell says if preclearance is granted by the U.S. Attorney, the suit will be dismissed.