Will Census change local districts?
By Bobby Bryant, Editor
New Census numbers showing that Darlington County’s population has dropped by nearly 6,000 since 2010 probably won’t mean any major changes in the way County Council and School Board districts are drawn, officials say. Every 10 years, the county must use new Census figures to adjust districts for County Council and the School Board (they both use the same district maps). This time, a “nibble effect” likely will be enough to deal with changes that are needed, said county elections chief Hoyt Campbell. “A little off this (district), a little off that one,” Campbell said Nov. 15 at a public hearing on council and School Board redistricting, held at Hartsville Middle School to provide more room in case a large crowd attended. About 25 residents came to the hearing. Nearly all of County Council attended. “You take a little piece here and a little piece there and you make a map,” Campbell said. One member of the public asked how accurate the Census figures were – how many residents simply didn’t respond to the Census? Campbell said there was little point in debating how many county residents didn’t get counted during the 2020 Census, which was complicated by the COVID-19 crisis. “We’ve got to deal with the hand we were dealt,” Campbell said. “ … I personally believe we’ve got more people” than the Census counted. Though County Council and the School Board both use the same district lines, it’s council’s responsibility to take charge of redistricting after every Census. Based on the 2020 Census’ findings, Campbell said, some districts are a few hundred over their ideal population, some are a few hundred under, and one is almost dead on, off by only a few dozen people. Officials said the public will be kept informed as the process continues.