Birch County? Join Lexington County?

With all the election mess in Richland County – not to mention the enormous “donors” we are to Richland county from out here in the small Northwest corner – people have mentioned to me that they want to “be Lexington County” or form a new county called Birch.

The first question I ask is “Are you serious?” and they tell me they are; so I then ask “What is Birch County?” I’m told “Ballentine – Irmo – Chapin.” This is news to me but supposedly had been talked about in some circles for years.

Well, as an official who listens to my constituents, I’ve actually spent some time researching if those options are even a possibility.

Actually – they are; however, chances are slim to none it would ever happen.

For those curious, here’s what I’ve learned – in layman’s terms:

1) “Birch County” would require:

One-third of the registered voters in the “new county” to sign a petition
The Governor could then call a special election
During that election, two-thirds of the voters must vote “Yes”
Department of Justice must approve

2) “Changing from Richland to Lexington” would require:

10% of registered voters in the “effected area” signing a petition
The Governor could then call a special election
During that election, two-thirds of the voters in the “effected area” would need to vote Yes
During that election, a simple majority (50% + 1) of Lexington County voters would need to vote Yes
Department of Justice must approve

Areas of our community have tried to incorporate before and an attempt of this magnitude would be even more difficult.

Nonetheless, I did want to let you know I have researched it for you. Of course, this also doesn’t get into the financial aspect of the move, the governance (if new county), and other important details either. Just wanted to present the “how it can happen” to those of you that have asked about such a move.