“Bleaching” of S.C. Voting Districts Lead to Lawsuits

“Bleaching” of S.C. Voting Districts Lead to Lawsuits

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Feds approve S.C.’s plans for 7th district: But S.C. Democrats plan to sue over other election-line changes

By GINA SMITH, theState.com 

The U.S. Justice Department has pre-approved the creation of a new 7th congressional district — considered safe turf for a Republican candidate — in the state’s northeastern corner, anchored in Horry County.

The department also signed off on changes to the state’s other six districts, sparking one lawsuit so far.

Dick Harpootlian, chairman of the S.C. Democratic Party, said Monday he will soon sue, arguing the newly drawn lines unnecessarily pack African-American voters into into certain districts — most notably the 6th district now represented by U.S. Rep. Jim Clyburn of Columbia, South Carolina’s lone Democratic congressman.

“They’ve taken Jim Clyburn’s district and made it 55 percent African-American,” Harpootlian said. “They’ve done it to bleach out the 7th and the 1st (district) and the 2nd (district). We believe that is inconsistent with current Supreme Court law. We’re going to give the United States Supreme Court a chance to say race should not be used as a divisive criteria in reapportionment.”

Harpootlian points to white voters’ support of President Barack Obama in 2008 and U.S. Rep. Tim Scott, an African-American Republican from Charleston in 2010, as proof race no longer determines election outcomes and should not be a factor in drawing districts.

Four of the current six districts are about 20 percent African-American. The new district will be 28 percent.

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