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      Judges hold hearing on SC election districts

      COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) -- A three-judge federal panel is beginning a two-day hearing on a lawsuit challenging the way South Carolina House and the state's congressional election district boundaries were drawn.

      Six black voters are challenging the districts passed by the Republican-dominated General Assembly.

      The lawsuit being considered Thursday could force the state to redraw all 124 House districts and seven congressional districts. South Carolina is getting a new congressional district because of population growth documented by the 2010 Census.

      The suit accuses Republicans leaders of drawing as many black residents as possible into as few House districts as possible in order to create other districts with a large white majority.

      Republican leaders deny that, though they acknowledge that race is an important factor in drawing districts under the U.S. Voting Rights Act.

      (Copyright 2012 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)