Representative Terry Alexander (D – Florence) is introducing a bill in the upcoming legislative session that will address this state’s voting system inadequacies. As seen during the recent mid-term elections in November, there were multiple instances of voting machine problems, causing huge delays and questions about whether votes cast were tabulated correctly. The proposed legislation mandates the state legislature fund updated machines, including a paper record for voter verification, and establishes a post-election audit to identify and rectify any issues.
Citizens of South Carolina shouldn’t have to question if their vote is being counted accurately when they participate in a fundamental part of democracy, just because our state has not focused on the need to update our voting machines in nearly 14 years.
Shaundra Scott, Executive Director of the ACLU of SC, said “the Governor and Legislature’s collective inaction on this issue is very concerning and threatens our fundamental right to vote. South Carolinians should be confident that every vote is counted and accurately recorded. Going into the 2019 session, they must include funding for adequate voting machines, and we emphatically support the efforts of Rep. Alexander.”
The updates requested in the bill will address concerns raised by Department of Homeland Security Chief, Kirstjen Nielsen, during a May 2018 Senate Intelligence Committee hearing. During the hearing, Secretary Nielsen called not having a verifiable way to audit election results, like in South Carolina, a “national security concern.” Nielsen endorsed paper ballots as “an important safeguard” against tampering with votes. Additionally, the South Carolina Elections Commission has consistently brought the issue of funding for new voting machines to be considered in the budget. The SC Election Commission has submitted a request to be considered during the 2019 SC Legislative Session for funding for new voting machines.
Rep. Terry Alexander said, “I have faith that my fellow lawmakers will also sponsor this bill, see the seriousness of this issue, and will not hesitate to budget so that South Carolina will not be looked to as a national security risk.”
The ACLU of SC is working with and supporting Rep. Terry Alexander to get this bill passed and secure funding for new voting machines. The ACLU of SC plans to mobilize their base and use all the advocacy tools available to ensure the passage of the bill.