The American Civil Liberties Union has waded into the controversy over South Carolina's bizarre Democratic primaries last week, which ended with the Senate nomination going to an unknown, unemployed candidate who won more votes than were cast in some counties.
The ACLU has sent a letter (PDF) to the South Carolina State Election Commission asking it not to allow the state's counties to erase the voting records from the June 8 primary, which saw favored candidate Vic Rawl lose the Senate nomination to unknown Alvin Greene by a 59-to-41 margin.
"We take no position on whether there were irregularities sufficient to place the outcome of the election in doubt but believe the voters in South Carolina are entitled to know that their votes were properly counted," the ACLU letter states. "That assurance can only be given if the information on the flash cards is preserved and audited."
Typically, South Carolina counties erase voting machines' memory cards before the machines are used in the next election cycle. But with numerous Democrats raising the alarm about the possibility of electoral fraud and the possibility that Greene -- as well as some other Democratic candidates -- were "plants" designed to sabotage the Democratic primaries, attention is turning to the state's voting machines in an effort to preserve as much of what happened on primary night as possible.
Rawl himself has called for an investigation into the election results.
"There are numerous complaints," he told MSNBC's Keith Olberman. "Everything from having my name show up on a Republican primary ballot to all sorts of issues with regard to the computer cards, with regard to the difference between the absentee votes versus the actual vote during the day of the machine voting. We are convinced that there is something amiss with regard to either the software or the machines themselves."
Government watchdog group Citizens for Ethics and Responsibility in Washington has called on South Carolina's attorney general to investigate whether Greene was "induced to run for the Senate in violation of South Carolina law."
Ã¢â‚¬Å“The people of South Carolina have a right to fair, transparent and fraud-free elections," CREW executive director Melanie Sloan said in a statement. "Paying candidates to run for office and concealing the sources of campaign funds undermines the integrity of the electoral process and threatens our democracy.Ã¢â‚¬Â
Despite having won early 60 percent of the vote in election-day balloting, Greene lost the mail-in ballots by a whopping 86-to-16 margin against Rawl, raising observers' suspicions about the results.
Whether or not the election results can be properly reviewed is still up in the air. BradBlog's Brad Friedman notes that South Carolina uses "ES&S' 100% unverifiable Direct Recording Electronic voting machines" which "are both oft-failed and easily manipulated in such a way that it's almost impossible to detect the systems have been gamed."