COLUMBIA, SC (WSPA) — South Carolina lawmakers will return to Columbia for the new session in January.

They’ll take up issues like the COVID-19 pandemic, expanding rural broadband access and education reform. One of the topics that will be unique to this legislative session is redistricting.

In South Carolina, the state legislature gets to redraw political boundaries the year after a census is completed. Lawmakers are expected to get the results of the 2020 Census later next year.

Political strategists said the results of this November’s election will have a long-term impact on the state. Democrats in rural counties seeking reelection suffered some surprising defeats earlier this month.

Former Spokesperson for Governor Nikki Haley and Republican strategist Rob Godfrey said, “I think a lot of traditionally conservative Democratic Senate candidates who normally convinced people to split their tickets over the course of the years, ended up being victims of straight Republican ticket voting.”

Republicans gained three seats in the Senate, increasing their majority in the body. They also gained a couple seats in the House. Former Executive Director of the South Carolina Democratic Party Amanda Loveday said with redistricting expected in 2021 losing seats does in both bodies stings.

“People run in years like now to be involved in the conversation revolving redistricting. It is the biggest issue for elected officials because it has a long term effect,” she said.

Loveday expects this topic to be a priority for Senators next year. “This will be a very different conversation than we’ve seen in the past. Part of the Voting Rights Act has been stricken down. Our maps don’t have to be reviewed anymore by the federal government. That will change the process this year and conversation.”

Godfrey said the increased Republican majority will give the GOP more opportunities to impact the lines.

He said, “As we always see sitting elected officials during redistricting tend to protect themselves and draw lines to help them get reelected. We shouldn’t expect anything different.”

The next legislative session starts on January 12th.