ACLU of South Carolina's Response to GOP Chair's Plan to Purchase Voter Records

Drew McKissick plans to purchase voter records and turn them over to the Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity after the State Election Commission declined to do so.

 

For Immediate Release
July 7, 2017

Contact: Shaundra Scott, Executive Director, sscott@aclusc.org, 843-720-1423

CHARLESTON, SC - Despite the South Carolina Election Commission stating they will not turn over voter information to the Trump administration, South Carolina Republican Party Chairman Drew McKissick has stated that he will buy South Carolina voter data and send the information to the Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity. McKissick's actions directly contradict the stated reasons for non-compliance given by the South Carolina Election Commission: it is against the law to turn over voter information to anyone other than a South Carolina registered voter.  

While purchasing voter information by an in-state registered voter is legal (the information can be purchased for $2,500 as long as it will not be used for commercial purposes) - and has been done by both major political parties for decades - McKissick is clearly and willfully undermining the ability of South Carolina election officials to effectively do their jobs or for the legislature to enact measures meant to protect the citizens of this state.

In a Tweet on July 6, 2017, McKissick stated that "It is a critical function of self-government for voters to have confidence in the integrity of our voting process".  It will be difficult for citizens to have confidence in the voting process if one person can nonchalantly undermine a government entity and subsequently put an entire states’ reputation at risk. Indeed, he is setting precedent that could allow any non-state entity wishing to have access to voter records – for any purpose – to convince a South Carolina citizen to be an information mule. 

The laws of this state and the purpose of the Election Commission should not be circumvented for any reason, but especially to be used by a dubious - at best - Election Integrity commission to “prove” non-existent voter fraud in the 2016 election that cost the sitting President the popular vote, to be used as reasons to enact even stricter voting laws that lead to voting suppression.

Moreover, Kris Kobach, the leader of the President’s commission, has repeatedly engaged in voter disenfranchisement in Kansas by enacting a “show me your papers” requirement when registering to vote at the DMV, prompting the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals to characterize the practice as the “mass denial of a fundamental constitutional right.”  The court went on to say that Kobach’s assertion of widespread non-citizen voting – the impetus for the creation of the Election Integrity Commission – as “pure speculation.”  Kobach is now entering the stage on a National level, at the behest of the President, to solve a non-existent problem that could dramatically curtail the constitutional right to vote.

Drew McKissick is enabling the false narrative of voter fraud to breathe life, and instead of suggesting that states who refuse to provide voter data to the President’s Commission have something to hide, he might consider why we have laws in the first place that prevent the sharing of voter information, and why the Administration, who ran on a platform of small government, wants to infringe on States’ rights to keep confidential its voting records.

South Carolina Governor Henry McMaster has yet to address McKissick’s plan.  While there is information that is open to the public, this request from the Trump administration begs the questions as to whether the regulations surrounding the release of voter information need to be reviewed and revised.  

We hope the Governor will speak out against McKissick's plan and will work to maintain the integrity of the South Carolina Election Commission as well as the voting and privacy rights of South Carolinians.  The ACLU of South Carolina will continue to work to ensure a future in which voting is open and encouraged, and privacy is respected.  

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