Attorney General Alan Wilson asked the agency to investigate last year after the Department of Motor Vehicles determined in early 2012 that more than 900 people listed as deceased had voted in recent years. Wilson called the number “alarming” and said it “clearly necessitates an investigation into criminal activity.”
State Election Commission Director Marci Andino had her staff look at questionable votes from the November 2010 general election, or about 200 of the more than 900 votes total – information that was also ultimately analyzed by SLED. Nearly half of the issues could be attributed to clerical errors, while several dozen resulted from DMV officials running Social Security numbers of voters against dead people but not seeing whether the names matched.
Several other issues arose from ballots cast by men with the same names as their deceased fathers.
Of the 207 cases Andino’s agency examined, only a handful remained unexplained, according to the commission and the Law Enforcement Division.
The DMV’s initial analysis had been part of a research project on South Carolina’s new voter ID law, which was rejected by the U.S. Justice Department on the basis that it was prejudicial to minorities. Wilson, a Republican, successfully sued the federal government, and the law requiring people to have government-issued identification went into effect this year.
After DMV Director Kevin Shwedo testified to state lawmakers about his agency’s findings, Republican lawmakers and other elected officials immediately said the analysis showed why the new law was necessary.
Rep. Bakari Sellers, D-Denmark, questioned the expense of the police investigation and the origin of the numbers that Shwedo testified about.
“What they used were fictitious numbers to promote a regressive piece of legislation,” he said. “They needed something to grasp ahold of to justify taking steps backward in our voting-rights laws. … It’s apparent that we were lied to, and that’s troubling.”
Wilson spokesman Mark Powell said the prosecutor was pleased with the SLED investigation.
“The state’s chief prosecutor cannot stand by when presented with such a situation,” Powell said.