Originally created 07/14/01

Redistricting carries local implications

As South Carolina legislators study new redistricting lines, it appears Aiken County's growth will not be enough to garner it a new representative.

State Rep. James Harrison, R-Columbia, the chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, said the biggest change in the county will involve North Augusta and the growth in the area known as Merriweather, located in Edgefield County.

People there are represented by Democrat Bill Clyburn in House District 82.

In the current version of the redistricting plan, Merriweatherwould be thrown into Republican Don Smith's House District 83.

"It has more of a common interest with North Augusta than it does with Edgefield County," Mr. Harrison said.

The plan pleases Mr. Smith. But he agreed with Mr. Clyburn that an ideal plan would keep Edgefield County in one piece.

"Either way, I'm going to have the majority of the county, and that's what I want," Mr. Clyburn said.

Redistricting is the process in which legislative lines are redrawn every 10 years in accordance with the number of people counted by the census. The count suggested the ideal House district would contain 32,555 people and the ideal Senate district would contain 87,218.

Beaufort County grew by slightly more than 34,500 people, or 40 percent, during the past 10 years. It likely will gain a new representative in the state House in the redistricting process.

Horry County, with more than 52,500 new residents since 1990, expects to be the other county to get a new House district.

The redrawing of the political landscape, controlled by the majority-Republican Legislature, must be approved by Democratic Gov. Jim Hodges.

It also must be approved by the U.S. Justice Department under the Voting Rights Act.

But Mr. Harrison said he sees no complications for the plan, which will be debated before his committee July 25 and before the full House in mid-August.

Reach Matthew Boedy at (803) 648-1395 or scbureau@augustachronicle.com.


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