Thousands of southern Beaufort County voters would change precincts under a bill that has passed the S.C. House of Representatives.
The bill is designed to more evenly distribute voters among precincts, said Scott Marshall, executive director of the Beaufort County Board of Voter Registration and Elections.
Marshall said the elections board requested the bill to make long-overdue adjustments to the precincts he inherited when he took the director's job in 2009.
The state is supposed to split precincts, which are codified in state law, after they exceed 1,500 registered voters, Marshall said.
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However, that has not been done for years in Beaufort County, Marshall said.
He estimated 14 precincts exceed the limit.
"There's a lot more that needs to be done, but these actions are what the board considered most critical," Marshall said.
The bill also would ensure precincts' sizes are more manageable before the county begins to reapportion County Council districts this year, Marshall said. That process occurs every decade after the county receives U.S. Census results, which are expected to arrive soon, he said.
Marshall said he expects the board will deal with the remaining oversized precincts then.
The bill that passed the House last month would make these changes:
The bill, H3433, has been referred to the Senate Judiciary Committee. It is sponsored by state Reps. Bill Herbkersman, R-Bluffton, and Andy Patrick, R-Hilton Head Island.
The changes also need approval -- called "pre-clearance" -- from the U.S. Department of Justice, Marshall said. The board's suggested names for the new precincts are subject to the approval of the S.C. Office of Research and Statistics.
Marshall said he does not expect the changes to draw opposition.