Earlier in the year, President Donald J. Trump announced his decision through an executive order to establish the Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity, a working group designed in his view to eliminate voter fraud. Concerned with potential for state voter rolls to be inaccurate and misused, the election fraud commission sought voter rolls from all 50 states to vet and review. While the specific tasks of the election fraud commission remain unknown, the ultimate goal, at least publicly, appears to be to ensure the most accurate electoral outcomes possible.
Responding to the Commission’s request for state voting data, state governments have been reluctant to submit this information to the federal government. As of mid-October, 15 states (such as California, Delaware, Virginia, and Vermont) denied the Commission’s request, while others have remained undecided, such as Illinois, and some have complied, such as Florida, Colorado and Arkansas. A full state-by-state list can be found at this link. While the interactions between some states and the federal government have been bilateral, the events that occurred in South Carolina present an interesting case study in loopholes in state election law.
On June 28, 2017, the South Carolina Secretary of State’s office received a letter from the Election Fraud Commission requesting voter rolls be submitted to the committee. Three days later, the South Carolina Election Commission rejected the request to hand over the information. Not only would the request reject state law (i.e. South Carolina state law does not allow the sharing of Social Security numbers, felonious conviction histories, and party affiliation), the Governor of South Carolina stated, “[the] Constitution ensures voters ballot choices will always be secret . . . Americans have died protecting this freedom.” Ignoring the requests of the Trump administration, South Carolinian refused to submit the information. As noted by the governor, a lack of widespread voter fraud and fear of the public receiving secret information were important factors in making that decision.