A bill allowing South Carolina residents to register to vote online advanced Thursday. A House Judiciary panel approved the bill, which has been advocated as a way to save money and create a more reliable database of voter information. The full committee is expected to take it up next week. David Becker of the Washington-based Pew Center on the States said nine states already use the secure, online system, and three more are working toward it. The first was Arizona in 2002. The director of Pew’s election initiatives said the system is easier for voters, involves less paperwork and is therefore less prone to inaccuracies. It was a rare unanimous vote on an election bill. Democrats have spent the last few years fighting election bills pushed through by the Legislature’s Republican majority. But Rep. Bakari Sellers, the lone Democrat on the panel, praised the online registration bill as a great idea.
The subcommittee’s chairman, Rep. Alan Clemmons, said it’s an opportunity to correct problems in the election database. Such problems came to light earlier this year, when the Department of Motor Vehicles director told House members that an analysis of voter ID data found 953 people who appeared to have voted after their death. A review by the state Election Commission found no cases of fraud or ballots cast in dead people’s names.
Instead, of the 197 cases reviewed in detail, the commission discovered clerical errors, poor data matching, errors in assigning voter participation and voters dying after being issued an absentee ballot as reasons for the confusion, said elections director Marci Andino.