Good Question: Your voter info for sale, so what do people do with it?


COLUMBIA, SC (WACH) - Some South Carolina voters were shocked last week when they learned their voting information is up for sale.

South Carolina GOP chairman, Drew McKissick, said he was buying voter data from the South Carolina Election Commission so he could hand it over to a White House panel investigating potential voter fraud in the 2016 Presidential Election.

The panel had requested the information from the Commission, but, after consulting with the Attorney General's office, state election officials determined they would not release the data.

However, it is permissible to give that information to another registered South Carolina voter. Requests can be made through the Commission's website after verifying that you are a registered voter in the state.

Things like a voter's name, address, race, sex, voting precinct and which elections they have voted in are readily available, for a fee.

So what would someone actually do with that kind of information?

"I can look at your voting record and get a good sense of who you could possibly vote for," Columbia political strategist Dave Wilson said. "What issues might be important to you? Those are things that organizations are looking at knowing, asking how can I expand who it is that I'm talking to?"

Wilson says Republicans and Democrats in the state buy that data every year for a $2,500 fee, splitting the costs every other year between themselves. That data is then made available to the national Republican and Democratic parties so they can get a better understanding of who potential voters are.

It's a little 'Big Brother is watching,' but, you probably share more details about yourself on your social media accounts and when you swipe your credit card at the store.

Information like that can be very valuable to people formulating campaigns for candidates, other political efforts and marketing strategies.

And it's available to the people who know where to find it.

Voting data is only one piece of the pie.

"It's a very small piece. We've got a growing information age. Data analytics is a huge thing. That is a way we're slicing and dicing and getting into niche marketing when it comes to the political process," Wilson said. "I want to make sure from a strategy standpoint that I'm talking to people who actually care about an issue, want to do something about it, and have the propensity to actually do the call to action that we're asking them to do."

There is some data that is off limits when it comes to voter information from the state Election Commission.

Election officials do not release Social Security numbers, in whole or in part, to anyone, whether they're a voter or not. The Commission also has no data on a voter's party affiliation because South Carolina voters do not register by party.

Also, the concept of the 'secret ballot' remains intact. State election officials do not have information about how people vote, only information about which elections a voter has participated in.

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