Is SC registering non-citizens to vote? SLED review calls claim ‘unfounded.’

  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.

After a few weeks of finger pointing and viral social media posts, South Carolina Law Enforcement Division has found claims that the state was illegally attempting to register non-citizens to vote are unfounded.

State Rep. Adam Morgan, R-Greenville, who is running for Congress in District 4, sparked a frenzy of questions regarding non-citizens receiving voter registration forms. He said while he’s happy the situation was taken seriously, the SLED review wasn’t what he asked for.

“I’m thrilled that they didn’t find any actually fraud, but I do hope that they actually do the investigation which we requested, which is that the inspector general investigate the agency which repeatedly sent these forms to non-citizens,” Morgan said. “I think it’s great the governor went above and beyond and had SLED see if anyone was registered fraudulently, but that’s not the information that I brought to them.”

On Thursday, SLED sent out an email detailing what they had found in their initial review.

“After SLED’s initial review, the allegation that state agencies were attempting to ‘illegally register non-citizens to vote’ is unfounded,” Ryan Alphin, executive affairs director of SLED wrote in an email with the report. “As noted in the report, federal law requires service agencies to provide voter registration forms to people applying for benefits, including non-citizens. Further, the first question on the South Carolina Voter Registration form asks, “Are you a citizen of the United States of America?” If you check “No,” the form clearly states in bold, “DO NOT complete this form.”

Morgan, chair of the hard-line House Freedom Caucus, posted a photo April 29 and message to the social media platform X about a state government office giving a voter registration form to a non-citizen, both in person and then by mail.

The post went viral, garnering more than 400,000 views. Within the same week, Morgan and the Freedom Caucus “ordered” Gov. Henry McMaster to investigate the office, and McMaster responded with a letter requesting Morgan provide SLED information.

Morgan’s posts however, were met with skepticism. Multiple Republican House representatives posted messages questioning the reality of the situation, with some demanding to know who the refugee was.

Morgan originally said the refugee received the forms from the Social Security Office in Spartanburg. He later clarified it was from the South Carolina Medicaid Office. He called the form a voter registration form, however, it was a voter registration declination form. The photo of the form was not filled out, and it can be found online and printed out.

“It’s very sketchy that they sent it multiple times, that’s the part that doesn’t pass the smell test,” Morgan said before the SLED review.

Morgan also said numerous times that SLED had opened an investigation. SLED, however, did not confirm an ongoing investigation with The State SLED provided a statement, “SLED has received the Governor’s letter to Representative Adam Morgan and will review the allegations provided.”

When asked by The State about proof before the SLED review, Morgan said the only thing that the family had showed him were the forms, and that the family was looking for the letterheads from the office that were sent to them. He said the proof is two people who saw the form and experienced the situation.

The 276-page SLED review includes about seven pages of written findings, with the other pages as attachments. SLED said the non-citizen’s sister, Natalya Camp, from Spartanburg, could not provide SLED with the envelopes that the forms came in. Camp said her sister did not wish to cooperate.

SLED interviewed state Director of the Health and Human Services Robert Kerr, and identified the form as one that HHS sends out to anyone who applies for benefits, which is required in order to be in compliance with the National Voter Registration Act of 1993. It is required to give mail application voter registration information to public assistance applicants whether they are eligible to vote.

The agency sent out a statement shortly after Morgan’s post on Twitter, and explained nearly the same thing SLED found. The statement said that the office does not believe they should have a role in voter registration, but without the legal authority to make this change, they “remain required by federal law to provide voter registration application forms with each Medicaid application.” It included that Morgan had not been in contact with Kerr about the topic.

The SLED review also included attachments from the Legislative Audit Council’s review of South Carolina Elections from 2022-2023, which stated “We found no incidences where non-U.S. citizens with state IDs or driver’s licenses had voted.”

McMaster released a statement after the SLED review came out Thursday afternoon.

“The SLED investigation has confirmed the integrity of South Carolina’s voter registration system, as previous official audits have confirmed,” the press release stated. “Agencies are properly complying with state and federal voter registration laws, and no evidence of unlawful activity was found. In addition, the SLED report highlights that the citizenship verification policies and procedures being followed by state election officials are designed to prevent non-citizens from becoming eligible to vote.”

Morgan, however, said if the findings reveal that this is the way the system is set up, “we better get busy on fixing that.”

“I’m hoping that this isn’t just the end of it since that isn’t what we requested anyway,” Morgan said about the findings. “The main thing here is why are we sending non-citizens these forms on a taxpayer dime, and why is the agency doing it when they knew that they were non-citizens, it wasn’t just an accident. We’re kind of still in the exact same place.”