When Department of Motor Vehicles Director Kevin Shwedo testified earlier this month that over 900 South Carolinians appeared to have voted in recent elections after they died, Republican Attorney General Alan Wilson quickly paraded the claim in front of a national audience as evidence of “massive” voter fraud in the state. Rep. Alan Clemmons, the voter ID supporter who elicited Shwedo’s “zombie voters” testimony, went on to call voter fraud an “unspoken truth” in South Carolina.
But on Wednesday, Election Commission Director Marci Andino testified that of the six names the commission was allowed to examine, all six were perfectly eligible:
One allegedly dead voter on the DMV’s list cast an absentee ballot before dying; another was the result of a poll worker mistakenly marking the voter as his deceased father; two were clerical errors resulting from stray marks on voter registration lists detected by a scanner; two others resulted from poll managers incorrectly marking the name of the voter in question instead of the voter above or below on the list.
Given the national attention which Wilson and Clemmons have thrust upon South Carolina by calling the state’s ballot integrity into question, surely the Alans will go back to Fox News and explain how the central claim of their argument is rapidly eroding, right?
Don’t count on it. In fact, Clemmons and his Republican allies in the State House have introduced even more legislation that would put costly restrictions on groups that register voters. Clemmons’ bill would require registration groups and get-out-the-vote drives to register with the state, and impose serious fines on groups which submit incorrect information.
But the Department of Motor Vehicles itself performs voter registration services, so will the DMV be forced to register with the state? If someone misspells their street name or accidentally puts down the wrong phone number and the DMV submits their form, will the DMV be fined? So far a spokesman for Rep. Clemmons hasn’t returned our request for comment, but we’ll keep asking. (UPDATE: The DMV would be exempt, according to the House Judiciary Committee)
Another bill, introduced by Sen. Chip Campsen, would require proof of citizenship before being allowed to register to vote — despite the total lack of evidence that foreigners or non-citizens have ever fraudulently registered or cast a ballot in South Carolina. Aspiring voters are already required to attest to their citizenship under penalty of perjury when registering, so we question whether non-citizens are willing to risk jail time in order just to vote on election day.
“It appears that what masquerades as reasonable policy in this state, is really just hard-edged political agendas,” Erskine College political scientist Ashley Woodiwiss told the Statehouse Report. “It’s blunt. It’s crude. And it’s ideology driven, not in support of the well-being of the state, but at the detriment of the most vulnerable members of our society.”
Like the Alans’ evidence-free claims in state and national media alleging an outbreak of “zombie voters,” Republican legislators must show some concrete proof this outbreak of bureaucracy is actually needed. Defending and enacting such legislation in the State House continues to waste taxpayer dollars, while lawmakers are simply expanding “big government” and unnecessary red-tape regulations they claim to oppose.