WASHINGTON, DC — “Dead voters in South Carolina!” grabbed headlines for weeks after the state attorney general took to Fox News to declare that he had unearthed evidence that their elections had been tainted by voters from the grave. Though this fabulous story was shown to be no more than a fable, Alan Wilson isn’t yet prepared to give up on the preposterous idea that South Carolina elections are plagued with dead voters.
After Wilson made the dead-voters charge in January, the State Election Commission investigated the matter, but was unable to find any evidence of voter fraud, much less zombie voters. Indeed, in 95 percent of the cases, investigators found a much simpler explanation for the discrepancies: human error. Some cases involved mistakes by poll watchers — such as marking down that Jim Abott voted instead of Jim Abbott, or simply stray marks that seemed to indicate an individual had voted when he hadn’t — while others were individuals who voted early and then died before Election Day.
ThinkProgress spoke with Wilson about the matter last week outside Congress. We asked for his reaction to the State Election Commission’s finding no evidence of voter fraud nor dead voters, despite his insistence to Fox News that “We know for a fact that there are deceased people whose identities are being used in elections in South Carolina.” Wilson remained largely unchastened, refusing to concede that the idea of dead voters in South Carolina is a farce. “It’s premature at this time” to say there are no dead voters, Wilson declared. “It’s my hope there are no deceased voters, but I do hope the General Assembly takes up the issue.”
KEYES: So when the election commission says that 95 percent of the cases are simply human error [...]
WILSON: It’s my hope there are no deceased voters, but I do hope the General Assembly takes up the issue and updates these archaic rules.
KEYES: But regardless of their findings, you think there might be?
WILSON: I won’t know until their investigation is complete. It’s premature at this time.
Last year, the state passed a voter ID law to require all voters to present a certain form of photo identification or be turned away from the polls. The Justice Department blocked that law last August for violating the Voting Rights Act’s prohibition on election laws that discriminate against minorities. Indeed, if left in place, it could potentially disenfranchise 178,000 South Carolinians, hitting racial minorities hardest.
Wilson, who supports voter ID, has used the charade of dead voters as evidence of why the Palmetto State needs Without the prospect of voter fraud — which is far rarer than being struck by lightning — the “need” for voter suppression laws like voter ID fall by the wayside.