Combating DMV Voter Registration Issues in South Carolina


At a Glance

During the 2022 election, many South Carolina voters faced significant difficulty casting their ballot despite properly registering or updating their voter registration through the South Carolina Department of Motor Vehicles (SCDMV). CLC, ACLU, and ACLU of South Carolina represent Black Voters Matter, Amplify Action, Upstate Action Alliance, and individual voters to address this issue which hindered properly registered South Carolinians’ ability to vote.  

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About this Action

Before the 2022 Election, many South Carolinians registered to vote or updated their voter registration at the South Carolina DMV (SCDMV)—a required mechanism under the National Voter Registration Act (NVRA). However, on Election Day, many of these voters experienced issues casting their ballot because their voter registration did not reflect either registration or an address change completed at the SCDMV.  

Under the NVRA, the DMV must provide for new voter registration and process updates to existing voter registrations. This process hinges on the SC DMV properly communicating the updates to the South Carolina State Election Commission (SC SEC) so that the SC SEC can communicate these changes to the counties ahead of Election Day.  

During the 2022 election in South Carolina, there was a breakdown in this critical communication, causing confusion across the state. Some properly registered voters were turned away at their polling place. One voter reported updating her registration at the SC DMV the summer before Election Day, yet her new polling place had her marked as improperly registered on Election Day. To vote, she then had to travel to her local County Board of Elections, update her address, and vote there. While waiting in line, she encountered voters with the same issue. Because of the wait time, some voters even left. Voters should not face such widespread confusion and barriers to voting.  

The fact that the information filed with the SC DMV was not properly updated with the SC SEC constitutes a clear violation of the NVRA. CLC, ACLU, and ACLU of South Carolina sent a notice letter to the SC SEC regarding this violation. SC SEC must correct the issue or outline a clear plan on how to correct the issue by December 7, 2023. 

The 2023 election in South Carolina is only a couple of months away. If the DMV voter registration process is not remedied, more South Carolina voters may be improperly denied the opportunity to vote this Election Day.  

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