Shwedo acknowledged the “poor timing” of his announcement, telling senators he brought up the inaccurate numbers as soon as he was able. Though email records show Shwedo questioned the Election Commission’s numbers as early as September 29, he made no mention of the discrepancies until the Justice Department handed down their decision nearly three months later. Still, the DMV director denied ever discussing the department’s voter information or coordinating its release with Gov. Haley.
However, Shwedo did say Attorney General Alan Wilson asked him before Christmas to review whether anyone appeared to have voted while dead — and if Shwedo’s timing wasn’t political in nature, Wilson’s certainly was. Right as Shwedo told a House subcommittee in January that over 900 people appeared to have voted in recent elections, the attorney general’s office blasted out a press release touting the unsubstantiated claim as evidence of voter fraud. Wilson continued his publicity tour on Fox News, while voter ID proponent Alan Clemmons told local media even stricter measures were necessary to combat the “unspoken truth” of voter fraud in South Carolina.
On Wednesday, however, Shwedo walked back his earlier comments about voter fraud which set off the “zombie voters” firestorm. “I have not done the investigation [into the veracity of the numbers], nor am I qualified,” he said.
“This is a partisan issue, as partisan as they come,” responded Sen. Vincent Sheheen, cautioning Shwedo against making statements that could be interpreted as definitive by the press — or for that matter, by over-zealous Republicans such as the Alans.