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Legislative Redistricting Follows 2020 Census

Every decade, the U.S. Census Bureau conducts a count of people living in each state totaling the entire United States population. This count affects numerous state and federal funding streams, House and Senate legislative districts, and the number of congress members from states, ultimately giving more power to states with more U.S. House members. The 2010 census added a seventh House member for South Carolina — currently-serving Rep. Tom Rice from Myrtle Beach. The 2020 census did not add any congressional seats for the state.

From a state legislative perspective, the census forces the redrawing of South Carolina House and Senate districts, determining what senator or representative represents what areas. Legislators in South Carolina represent single member districts. According to the state constitution, there are 46 senate districts and 124 house districts. These districts are drawn based on the population in the state and in each district. 

Based on the 2020 census numbers, House and Senate districts are each designated a certain population amount to include, within a percentage range. Cartographers and staff must draw each district within a set of state and federal legal guidelines to fulfill the principle of “one person, one vote” in a way that does not discriminate against racial or language minorities.

After public meetings across the state, plan submissions to specially-appointed subcommittees and hours of testimony from different interest groups, House and Senate members proposed and adopted their own plans in December 2021 to redraw their districts to meet the new census numbers.

The General Assembly is also tasked with redrawing congressional maps to respond to new growth in the state. Members approved the new congressional plan maps when they returned to Columbia for regular session in January. 

Gov. Henry McMaster approved both the House and Senate redistricting plans. However, two groups have filed lawsuits against the House plan and the congressional plan.