Horry County Redistricting Committee finalizing new district map

Published: Jan. 6, 2022 at 7:34 AM EST
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HORRY COUNTY, S.C. (WMBF) - Precisely where Horry County voters head to the polls could change in the next couple of months.

The Horry County Redistricting Committee is nearly finished with a new county council district map.

“I live on one side of the street. My mother lives on the other,” said Horry County School Board Chairman Ken Richardson, who serves on the redistricting committee. “We can ride to the polls together, and my mother votes for one county council member and I vote for another county council member.”

Richardson knows first hand how confusing voting district lines can be. Now that he’s part of the process for drawing up new ones following the 2020 census data, he realizes how challenging it often is to keep people with similar interests in the same district.

“I know when you go home, some of you are asking, ‘Why don’t they just use common sense?’ We do, but it can be a little complicated,” said Richardson.

The county needs to redraw the lines every decade to keep up with population growth.

For example, both districts four and five on the South Strand had about 24,000 people in them when they were drawn in 2010. A decade later, District 4 has 12,000 more people than District 5 because it includes Burgess, the fastest growing community in the county.

One representative from the Horry County Democratic Party wants to make sure those new lines don’t silence any voices.

“If the so-called minority votes weren’t so important, then why do we find ourselves having them cracked up by this committee,” said Cedric Blain-Spain during a public input session Wednesday night.

Blain-Spain accused the committee of “cracking,” meaning breaking up a minority vote into several districts so it doesn’t carry as much weight come election day, specifically in districts 2 and 3.

The committee consulted an attorney who says the draft map follows all state and local protocols to prevent that from happening.

Councilman Orton Bellamy, who is also a committee member, says the best way to prevent cracking is to keep their ears open and listen to what voters have to say during the public meetings.

“We’re going to ensure we do not have gerrymandering, cracking and packing in Horry County,” said Bellamy. “The objective is to be fair and make sure the maps are equitable to all of our citizens in Horry County.”

Bellamy says they’re going to take the input from Wednesday night and tweak the map just a little more during a meeting next week.

They will then go before county council for approval so the new districts will be in place in time for the June primary election. These same districts would also take effect for the Horry County School Board.

More information on the county’s redistricting process, as well as map drafts, click here.

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