South Carolina’s top elections official is questioning a report that more than 950 voters cast ballots after they were listed as dead.
Two weeks ago, Department of Motor Vehicles director Kevin Shwedo told a House judiciary panel that his agency had cross-matched its records with voter rolls and found more than 37,000 names of voters who had died. Of those, Shwedo said 953 were recorded as voting after their deaths.
However, State Election Commission director Marci Andino told legislators Wednesday she has not yet been given the names of the 953 “dead voters.” She did say the Attorney General’s Office had given the commission six names of Abbeville voters listed as casting ballots after their death.
Of those six, Andino said one had cast an absentee ballot, but died shortly before Election Day. The other five were clerical errors by pollworkers.
Andino said 10 of those 37,000 voters listed as deceased had completed absentee ballots this past GOP primary. She said local election officials investigated the DMV claims and found all 10 were actually still alive.
“In Pickens County, a person identified by DMV as being deceased is the mother of one of the poll workers,” Andino said. “These are people that our counties know and these people are very much alive.”
Republicans had jumped on the DMV report as evidence that the state needs to require photo IDs for voters to cast a ballot.
Rep. Alan Clemmons (R-Myrtle Beach) said he wants to get to the bottom of why 953 people are listed as voting after they died. “We must have certainty in South Carolina that zombies aren’t voting.”
The four Republicans on the panel questioned Andino about the discrepancies between the DMV and Election Commission data. Andino said, because voting is considered a constitutional right, there are very specific federal laws that dictate how names can be taken off voter rolls.
“Removing a voter that DMV says may have forgotten to renew his license, may have moved out of state, or may be simply dead just does not meet the federal requirements,” she said, “I can’t simply take somebody off the list without having some proof that they are deceased (or) they have moved.”
The state Department of Health and Environmental Control updates the agency each month with the names of people who died over the previous 30 days. Under the National Voter Registration Act, the commission can only remove an out-of-state resident’s name if that person informs election officials about their move, or they do not respond to a confirmation letter. Andino said the confirmation mailings are only completed every two years.
Andino said the Department of Motor Vehicles never approached her with their report of dead voters. However, Shwedo told legislators that he did and never got a response, so he sent the numbers and names to the state Attorney General’s Office to investigate. However, the Attorney General’s Office says it cannot give the list to the Election Comission because it’s now being handled as a criminal investigation by the State Law Enforcement Division.
Clemmons said the communication needs to improve.
“It’s a ‘he said,’ ‘she said’,” Clemmons said afterward, “They’d all better get together. They all need to get together or we are going to start assigning blame.”