Hands-on science

Claire Hancock, a senior at Harding University in Searcy, Ark., works with coral during her 10-week-long research program funded by the National Science Foundation through the College of Charleston.

COLUMBIA -- Some tri-county voters will likely be shifted into a new congressional district for the 2012 election while a new 7th District is created in the Grand Strand and the Pee Dee.

Next, Gov. Nikki Haley will sign the plan passed Tuesday by the state Legislature. The U.S. Department of Justice needs to also give approval because of the state's past voting abuses.

The plan anchors the new 7th District in Horry County and has it running along the North Carolina border and swinging into the Pee Dee. Legislators defeated a plan that would have split up the tri-county area.

All of the state's existing congressional boundaries were altered to account for population changes, including the lines for the 1st and 6th districts, represented now by Republican Tim Scott and Democrat Jim Clyburn, respectively.

Of significant interest locally:

--Daniel Island was moved from the 6th District to the 1st District. Clements Ferry Road is the new dividing line for the districts.

--The Naval Weapons Station was shifted into the 6th District.

--McClellanville and Awendaw will remain in the 1st District, despite early proposals to move the communities into another district.

--Edisto Island will switch from 6th District to the 1st.

--Voters in West Ashley and on the Charleston peninsula will remain in their current congressional districts, by and large. Earlier plans called for more changes there.

--Lower Dorchester County is in the 1st District, encompassing Ridgeville and Summerville.

Speaker Bobby Harrell said the plan is the best solution for the state. Harrell and other legislative leaders, including Charleston Republican and Senate President Pro Tem Glenn McConnell negotiated the plan over the last month.

"This plan is fair, legally sound and truly represents the will of our citizens and communities of interest around our state," said Harrell, R-Charleston.

Democrats, however, challenged the GOP-controlled House and Senate to approve a plan that better served minority and rural communities.

Rep. Seth Whipper, D-North Charleston, said the plan reinforces the state's Republican dominance while weakening the voice of minorities. Five of the current six districts are represented by Republicans and the new 7th District is a safe bet for a GOP candidate.

"I think the plan overlooks the diversity of our state," Whipper said.

If lawmakers wanted, they could have drawn a second district that would allow for minority voters and farming communities to have more influence in future elections, Whipper said.

Instead, the plan greatly expands Clyburn's 6th District to span from the eastern part of the state to the Georgia state line. That district includes parts of Beaufort, Berkeley, Charleston, Colleton, Dorchester and Georgetown counties, among others.

Democrats and the American Civil Liberties Union have argued South Carolina should have two U.S. House minority districts rather than one.

Rep. Gilda Cobb-Hunter, D-Orangeburg, said she wants the Justice Department to nix the plan.

"I hope for the people of South Carolina that this plan ends up in court," she said.

The Senate voted 24-16 to approve the plan. The House voted 75-33.

The Justice Department's review is expected to take at least two months. The plan should be finalized in time for 2012 primary and general elections.

The process happens once every 10 years after the U.S. Census. South Carolina received a 7th congressional seat, because of the state's population growth.

The Associated Press contributed to this report. Reach Yvonne Wenger at 803-926-7855, follow her on twitter at @yvonnewenger and read her Political Briefings blog.

South Carolina legislators have given final approval to a U.S. House redistricting plan that adds a new, 7th District in the northeast corner of the state.

1st District: Now held by U.S. Rep. Tim Scott. The district loses fast-growing Horry County as well as part of Georgetown County. It would include most of Charleston and Beaufort counties and smaller portions of Berkeley, Colleton and Dorchester counties.

2nd District: Now held by U.S. Rep. Joe Wilson. The district becomes more compact and loses its connection to the coast. It would cover all of Aiken, Barnwell and Lexington counties and parts of Richland and Orangeburg counties in the western part of the state.

3rd District: Now held by U.S. Rep. Jeff Duncan. The district in the state's northwestern corner along the Georgia state line changes little. It would include Abbeville, Anderson, Edgefield, Greenwood, Laurens, McCormick, Oconee, Pickens and Saluda counties and parts of Greenville and Newberry counties.

4th District: Now held by U.S. Rep. Trey Gowdy. The district loses Union County. The district would consist of most of Greenville and Spartanburg counties.

5th District: Now held by U.S. Rep. Mick Mulvaney. The district becomes more compact. It would be made up Cherokee, Chester, Fairfield, Kershaw, Lancaster, Lee and Union counties, most of Sumter County and parts of Newberry and Spartanburg counties.

6th District: Now held by the only Democrat on the South Carolina delegation, U.S. Rep. Jim Clyburn. The district greatly expands, spanning from the eastern part of the state to the Georgia state line. It includes Allendale, Bamberg, Calhoun, Clarendon, Hampton, Jasper and Williamsburg counties and parts of Beaufort, Berkeley, Charleston, Colleton, Dorchester, Georgetown, Florence, Orangeburg, Richland and Sumter counties.

7th District: The new district would include Chesterfield, Darlington, Dillon, Georgetown, Horry, Marlboro and Marion counties, as well as most of Florence County.