Some state lawmakers want to create a new commission to redraw the state’s legislative and congressional districts after 2020, setting the stage for a debate over gerrymandering and whether the Republican-led Legislature should be in charge of divvying up voters. A group of senators and representatives filed several pieces of legislation last week that would give South Carolinians the ability to choose whether state lawmakers or a commission made up of nine other people draw the state’s future political boundaries. Anyone who is or was a lobbyist, a candidate for office, a legislative staffer, an employee of a political party or contributed $2,000 or more to a political candidate in any given year could not serve on the proposed commission.
The goal of the independent body would be to make the seats in the U.S. House and both chambers of the state Legislature more competitive. It would do so by mandating the new districts drawn after the U.S. Census in 2020 are geographically compact and not twisted and contorted into odd shapes to ensure one party has the advantage.
The newly proposed legislation would pose the question of who should draw the district lines to voters in a referendum on the 2020 ballot. But first, the bill must pass the Statehouse.