South Carolina election officials are not saying yet whether they will release personal identifying information about S.C. voters to President Donald Trump’s voter fraud commission.
The S.C. State Election Commission will consider the request, received Monday, and determine how to respond, said state elections spokesman Chris Whitmire.
“We’ll see what the law requires us to provide and not to provide,” Whitmire added.
Gov. Henry McMaster’s office said the Election Commission should comply with the request as far as it is legally able to.
“The governor believes any information readily available to the general public should be made available to the president’s commission. No more, no less,” said McMaster spokesman Brian Symmes.
McMaster, who as South Carolina’s lieutenant governor was the first statewide elected official to endorse Trump ahead of the 2016 GOP primary, took to Twitter to assure voters that personal information like Social Security numbers would remain confidential.
While public records show which elections a voter participated in, including party primaries, “(The) Constitution ensures voters ballot choices will always be secret,” McMaster said. “Americans have died protecting this freedom.”
The voter fraud commission is requesting voters’ full names, addresses, dates of birth, the last four digits of Social Security numbers, elections voted in from 2006 on, felony convictions, and information regarding military status, registration in other states and overseas information.
The commission also is asking for S.C. voters’ party affiliation, but voters do not register by political party. Whitmire also said state law prohibits the agency from releasing Social Security numbers.
Commission members may want to discuss and vote on the request, as some of the requested information is not part of South Carolina’s normal voter roll, Whitmire said. Or the agency head could choose to release information that is publicly available.
President Donald Trump appointed the voter fraud commission in a May executive order after claiming as many as 5 million people voted illegally in the 2016 election. Experts have said there’s no evidence to support that claim, and critics worry the board will limit eligible voters’ ability to register.
Other states with Republican and Democratic leadership have said they will not comply with the commission’s request.
A state voter roll is publicly available at the request of registered S.C. voters, including precinct information and elections voted in going back to the 2014 general election cycle.
But some of the requested information is not available on the public voter roll.
For example, the commission removes voters when notified they have been convicted of a felony, but the board doesn’t otherwise record the fact on a voter list, Whitmire said. Overseas or military voters also can request a ballot ahead of an election, but that also wouldn’t be noted in their voter registration information.