Advocacy Group in South Carolina Promotes Transparent Elections

Grassroots organization SCSE (South Carolina Safe Elections) has filed a lawsuit against eight counties and South Carolina’s state election commission for access to Cast Vote Records (CVRs). CVRs are digital records that show the votes recorded for each ballot during an election. Currently, access to CVRs is available in 27 states and Washington D.C.

Controversy Surrounds Release of Voting System Records in South Carolina

Since January 2022, SCSE has been denied access to CVRs through Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests. South Carolina state authorities claim that they cannot provide the CVRs due to concerns about Personally Identifiable Information (PII) on the ballots or the possibility of associating a ballot with a specific voter. SCSE argues that there is no substantial evidence supporting these claims and that the issues can be addressed through appropriate customization and redaction of the reports.

The issue with the release of CVRs in South Carolina dates back to August 2020 when Marci Andino, the executive director of the South Carolina Election Commission (SEC), wrote a letter to the state’s Attorney General’s (AG’s) office requesting that CVRs should not be made public due to PII concerns. Based on the SEC’s information, the AG’s office decided against releasing the records to the public. In response to SCSE’s request, nine legislators wrote a letter to the AG’s office in the summer of 2022, asking for a reconsideration of their decision. However, the AG’s office reaffirmed its original decision and indicated that court proceedings would be the only way to address the issue.

Legal Proceedings Delayed as SCSE Fights for Access to Election Data

The SCSE group has been involved in legal battles over election data from the 2020 elections. After successfully filing a request to prevent this data from being destroyed, they are currently facing lengthy and costly legal proceedings. In August, SCSE filed a lawsuit, which is expected to be heard in court around August/September of 2023. Additionally, the defendants are countersuing SCSE to prohibit them from submitting any future FOIA requests related to the 2020 election.

The SCSE advocates for transparency in elections. They argue that the existing voting system, referred to as the “black box” method, goes against the constitutional requirement that votes are cast secretly but not counted in secret. According to SCSE, once a voter submits their ballot into the tabulation machine, there is no visibility into how their vote is counted, creating a level of secrecy in the counting process that they believe is constitutionally impermissible.

This article appeared in Right Wing Insider and has been published here with permission.

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