COLUMBIA, SC (WSPA) — For more than four hours Wednesday, the House Legislative Oversight Committee questioned state agencies and concerned South Carolinians over the accuracy of the state’s voter list.
The focus of their conversation surrounded deceased voters and how long their voter registration stays active after their death.
South Carolina State Election Commission (SEC) Director Marci Andino said keeping the voter roll up to date can be challenging.
She said, “List maintenance is challenging and it always requires a balance to make sure we are removing people who are no longer eligible.” She went on to say, “There is always room for improvement.”
According to Andino, they have processes in place to help them to get the list up to date. Right now, the state health department (DHEC) notifies the SEC about deaths reported in the state.
The state Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) also notifies the commission about deaths reported through the federal Social Security Administration. The SEC then cross references this information with their records and updates the voter list.
The commission has partnered up with the Electronic Registration Information Center (ERIC). This is a non-profit organization that assists states to improve the accuracy of voter rolls. During Wednesday’s meeting, some lawmakers on the panel expressed concern over the organization.
Andino told lawmakers during an average year, health data shows about 50,000 South Carolinians die. She said about 80% of South Carolinians are registered to vote. She said for the most part, nearly all deceased voters are taken off the list, “In the last four years our average for removal has been 41,000 per year. I think these numbers say we aren’t way off base.”
She went on to say, “This process is working but there are some exceptions.” Some of the exceptions include South Carolinians who might die while out of the state. Some times that information is not shared in a timely manner.
During Wednesday’s meeting, Laurie Zapp urged lawmakers to continue to look into this issue. She is the founder of the conservative non-profit called Engage the Right. She said she has spent the last few years looking through funeral home obituaries and checking the voter registration status of those who had died.
She said, “This is not about purging rolls for me. This is about following the law and making sure nobody can vote for somebody that is deceased.”
Zapp told lawmakers she had a list of 4,000 deceased South Carolinians who had active voter registrations after their death. Zapp said this could lead to voter fraud.
The State Election Commission said they looked into a list of more than 600 names Zapp had sent them in September 2020. They did not find any evidence of someone voting in the name of deceased voter in South Carolina.
Chris Whitmire with the State Election Commission said issues can happen due to voter or poll manager errors but they are corrected.
The committee said they’ll be meeting again to continue looking into the issue.