Election Commission used flawed data, hyped claims of voters without licenses



COLUMBIA — The state Election Commission knew it was using inaccurate data when it released reports showing that nearly 240,000 voters could face problems voting under a new state election law, a South Carolina motor vehicles official said Thursday.

The law, now under review, requires the state to determine how many voters lack state-issued IDs so that the Election Commission can work to make sure they know of law changes. The DMV will issue them free photo identification cards.

On Wednesday, Depart­ment of Motor Vehicles Executive Director Kevin Shwedo sent the state’s attorney general an analysis showing that 207,000 of those voters live in other states, allowed their ID cards to expire, probably have licenses with names that didn’t match voter records or were dead.

“It ain’t nearly as bad as was being portrayed,” Shwedo said Thursday. He said the commission created “artificially high numbers to excite the masses.”

Shwedo said that when he first saw an Election Commission report in September showing more than 200,000 people without state-issued photo IDs, he knew it was wrong.

Shwedo said he told Marci Andino, the Election Commission’s executive director, that the information had to be flawed. She knew there were shortcomings in the analysis of 2.7 million voters, Shwedo said.

“The Election Commission knew that some of their data was inaccurate,” Shwedo said. “If you know, for example, that there are 37,295 dead people in your database and acknowledge them as potential voters, you are either stupid or you are disingenuous.”

Election Commission spokesman Chris Whitmire said the agency will eliminate nearly 60,000 deceased people and individuals whose names didn’t match. For instance, some records may show a voter’s first name as Robert, but the DMV may have it as Bob. That voter would have a driver’s license, but wouldn’t show up in the data the Election Commission is using.