A year and a half after a zombie voter fever fell over Republicans in campaign mode, a state police investigation found no indication that anyone purposefully cast a ballot using the name of a dead person in South Carolina.
Responding to an open records request, the S.C. Law Enforcement Division today released its final report to Free Times, one day before a federal holiday. SLED found no indication of voter fraud.
For a while last year, you couldn’t turn on Fox News without seeing S.C. GOP Attorney General Alan Wilson saying things like, “We know for a fact that there are deceased people whose identities are being used in elections in South Carolina.”
Attorney General Alan Wilson was unavailable for comment, but his spokesman, J. Mark Powell, passed along a statement.
“The initial claims reported to the Attorney General’s Office were alarming," Powell said. "They were not vague allegations, but contained specific information. The state’s chief prosecutor cannot stand by when presented with such a situation. So SLED was asked to investigate this matter. We appreciate SLED’s hard work in preparing this report.”
A spokesman for SLED declined to comment on the nearly 500-page report.
Stoking the zombie-voter fire back then was a list of some 950 names that Republican Gov. Nikki Haley’s DMV director, Kevin Shwedo, said were those of dead people that appeared to have voted in recent elections.
“Well over 900 individuals appear to have voted after they died,” Shwedo said at one House hearing on the matter.
Horry County Republican Rep. Alan Clemmons, who took much interest in the dead voter drama, proclaimed gravely in another hearing, “We must have certainty in South Carolina that zombies aren’t voting.” (During the state’s battle over Voter ID legislation a year prior, Clemmons had sent a letter to the U.S. Department of Justice in support of the measure that read in part, “It is an unspoken truth in South Carolina that election fraud exists.”)
At the time, State Election Commission director Marci Andino said the agency had investigated a handful of cases where it appeared the names of deceased people had appeared on polling precinct signature rolls, but found nothing nefarious.
She explained that of the initial batch of six names of allegedly dead voters on the DMV’s list, one had cast an absentee ballot before dying; another was the result of a poll worker mistakenly marking the voter as his deceased father; two were clerical errors resulting from stray marks on voter registration lists detected by a scanner; and two others resulted from poll managers incorrectly marking the name of the voter in question instead of the voter above or below on the list.
The agency went on to investigate more than 200 other names on the dead voter list and found zero cases of illegal activity.
But the fever wouldn’t break.
Eventually, the attorney general’s office announced that the State Law Enforcement Division would handle the rest of the names on the list. “No one in this state should issue any kind of clean bill of health in this matter until the professionals at SLED have finished with their work,” said an attorney general’s office spokesman at the time.
Well, SLED has completed its work – and found nothing nefarious.
State Elections Commission spokesman Chris Whitmire says there was a time when the agency would get daily calls from members of the public who believed people in this state were casting fraudulent ballots in the name of dead people.
“It hurt the public confidence in South Carolina elections,” he says. He's glad SLED's report confirmed what the elections agency always believed: there was no fraud, merely clerical errors and genuine mistakes.
Bamberg County Democratic Rep. Bakari Sellers lashed out at the Republican officials who last year riled the public with the specter of dead voters haunting the ballot box. He said he hoped they were held accountable for compromising the public trust and integrity in the state's election process.
"They lied to our entire state and then they lied to our entire nation," Sellers said.
Bluegrass, Bidding, and BBQ
Join The Palladium Society Thursday, October 23rd from 7-10 p.m. for its 11th annual silent auction, featuring music by The Mustache Brothers and catering by Bourbon and The Oak Table. Tickets are $30 at the door and include admission, drinks, and food. Get yours online now!
The Other Place at Trustus Theatre
Juliana Smithton is a successful neurologist whose life seems to be coming unhinged. A mystery unfolds as fact blurs with fiction, past collides with present and the elusive truth of Juliana’s mental health boils to the surface in The Other Place, running at Trustus Theatre October 17th through November 1st. There will be a talk-back following the matinee on October 19th. Tickets can be purchased here or by calling the box office at 803-254-9732.
King Lear in Finlay Park
October 16th-18th and 22nd-25th, the South Carolina Shakespeare Company presents William Shakespeare’s King Lear. All performances held at the Finlay Park Ampitheatre at 7:30 PM. For tickets and more information, click here or call 803-665-2000.
Four Miles, Twelve Doughnuts
Winston’s Wish aims to increase knowledge and understanding of children with autism, and you can help by participating in the 4.donut Race on October 25th. Start at Edventure Children’s Museum, run 2 miles to Krispy Kreme, eat 12 doughnuts, and run back! Registration is required and can be done here before October 23rd at 5 p.m.
3LAU on Sunday, October 26th and the Unofficial Skrillex Mothership Tour After-Party on the 27th. More information and tickets for both can be found here. VIP tables available.
SEARCH FREE TIMES
Cupcake now hiring a closing manager. Must be outgoing, customer service focused, able to work evenings and weekends. Apply in person. 1213 Lincoln Street, Columbia SC 29201. freshcupcakes.com
U.S. Security Associates
Now hiring immediately for armed and unarmed security officers. WE TRAIN YOU! Columbia & surrounding areas. ussecurityassociates.com
Currently seeking a friendly & detail-oriented individual for an Administrative Assistant/Data Entry Clerk position on our Administrative Office team. Primary responsibilities include: Data entry, process incoming & outgoing mail, good communication skills required. Contact: email@example.com.
Local business is searching for new associates who are looking for a fun environment to earn great wages. Great position for college students/recent graduates. Must be well-mannered with excellent customer service skills/work ethic/ability to lift heavy items/must have valid Driver’s License. Call 803-376-4884 or email resume: firstname.lastname@example.org.