Hillary Clinton appearing at a town hall in North Charleston Thursday night (copy)

Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton speaks to the crowd at the Jenkins Orphanage in North Charleston in 2015 during the local party's Blue Jamboree event. File/Staff

South Carolina Democrats have joined a national legal challenge over how the state's nine Electoral College votes are awarded, contending the winner-take-all method in presidential elections is discriminatory and unconstitutional.

The suit, filed Thursday in U.S. District Court in Charleston, references Hillary Clinton's 2016 South Carolina results and the fact that in the final count, her showing here meant little.

"Republican Donald Trump received 54.94 percent of the vote in South Carolina, yet he received every single electoral vote from South Carolina," the suit says.

"Likewise, Secretary Hillary Clinton received 40.67 percent of the vote in South Carolina, but received none of the electoral votes from South Carolina."

Historically, the suit says, the college is particular discriminatory to black voters in the state in that it violates the concept of "one person, one vote."

"It also distorts presidential campaigns, facilitates targeted outside interference in our elections, discriminates against racial and other minority voters, and ensures that a substantial number of citizen voters are disenfranchised when their votes are tallied in early November, only to be discarded when it really counts in mid-December," according to the filing document.

South Carolina is one of 48 states, along with the District of Columbia, that awards its Electoral College votes in this manner. Maine and Nebraska use a split method.

Presidential candidates must collect 270 votes of 538 available to win the election. Each state is awarded their "electors" based on their number of combined congressional and Senate members. 

Similar suits were filed this week in Texas, California and Massachusetts.

Columbia attorney and former S.C. Democratic Party Chairman Dick Harpootlian is leading the South Carolina effort. He said Republicans in California and Massachusetts back the challenge on grounds their votes are steamrolled in presidential years in these overwhelmingly Democratic states.

"It's two Reds (states) and two Blues," he said of the coordinated challenge.

Since Trump's surprise 2016 win, Democrats have primarily looked to challenge the Electoral College system, saying it allowed Trump to win by a narrow margin in key battleground states that flipped Red while Clinton won the popular vote by nearly 3 million ballots.

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Democrats have also made early steps to seek more equity in congressional district drawing, which will become more focused after the 2020 Census.

The suit names various elected officials in the state, including the governor, secretary of state and the State Election Commission as defendants.

The plaintiffs include six state voters, among them former state lawmaker Bakari Sellers. 

South Carolina's historical Republican leaning is also mentioned in the suit that notes the state's black vote, in general, hasn't had a say in the White House pick for some 40 years. 

"In each of the last ten presidential elections, the candidate who won South Carolina and received all of South Carolina's Electors has been a Republican and has not been the preferred candidate of African-American voters," it states.

One remedy, the suit suggests, if the Statehouse does not respond with reform, is for the court to create a proportional method of distributing electors, or selecting a proportional number for each party based on the number of votes each party's candidate receives statewide.

Reach Schuyler Kropf at 843-937-5551. Follow him on Twitter at @skropf47.

Political Editor

Schuyler Kropf is The Post and Courier political editor. He has covered every major political race in South Carolina dating to 1988, including for U.S. Senate, governorship, the Statehouse and Republican and Democratic presidential primaries.