GREENVILLE, S.C. (WSPA)- The South Carolina Democratic Party and national committees to elect Democrats to Congress are suing state election officials, claiming it’s unconstitutional to require a Social Security number to vote.
The party argues the requirement to provide a Social Security number on voter applications turns would-be voters away.
The lawsuit says there are 950,000 eligible but unregistered voters in the state compared to 1.2 million people who voted in the 2014 governor’s election.
South Carolina is one of five states that requires a social security number on voter registration applications.
“It impedes actually registering people to vote,” said Trav Robertson, who is the chairman of the South Carolina Democratic Party.
In the lawsuit filed in federal court on Monday, the plaintiffs argue that requiring a Social Security number creates a burden for those trying to register voters and opens them up to serious legal jeopardy if they’re the target of a data breach.
“We believe that when a stranger, whether it’s an organization that’s trying to do voter registration, or a church drive, or the League of Women Voters trying to register voters, that when someone gets to giving their social security number, then it kind of stops the process,” said Trav Robertson, who is the chair of South Carolina Democratic Party. He said he thinks this should be a bipartisan issue. Republicans aren’t on board.
“[My] first reaction was it’s a sad day in South Carolina when a major political party make it easier for voter fraud to happen,” said Nate Leupp, who is the chairman of the Greenville County Republican Party.
Leupp said removing the Social Security number requirement would make it easier for those who aren’t citizens to vote.
“When it all comes down to it, it really is to make it easier and more simpler for non-citizens to meddle in our elections.”
An analysis by a professor at Loyola Law School in Los Angeles found 31 voter fraud cases out of 1 billion votes cast nationwide between 2000 and 2014. Last year, the federal government brought charges against 19 foreigners who voted in the 2016 election in North Carolina.
In the lawsuit, democrats state that providing a Social Security number is “wholly unnecessary” to identify and verify potential voters, citing a national law that says states can verify identities through a drivers’ license number or the last four digits of their social security numbers.
The Privacy Act of 1974 prohibits the government from denying rights to people for refusing to disclose their Social Security numbers, but South Carolina’s law requiring a Social Security number to vote was grandfathered in since it was passed before then.
A spokesperson from the South Carolina State Elections Commission did not respond to a request for comment.