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I moved to South Carolina about three years ago, and voted in the 2014 midterm election. I don't remember exactly who I voted for, but between the big-ticket races and the local ones I'm certain I chose both Democrats and Republicans, and I think some minor-party candidates too.

A volunteer for a presidential candidate's campaign knocked on my door last week and asked for me by name. Out of idle curiosity I asked how he got my information. His answer was that in South Carolina, when a voter casts a ballot, the political party of the candidate(s) voted for receive the voter's contact information.

This seems highly suspicious to me. I know that voter registration records are public information to a degree, but I was under the impression that what goes on at the actual ballot box is entirely private.

Was the volunteer just misinformed? If not, what law authorizes this, what info does it release and who can access it?

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    I would guess the volunteer is misinformed. The fact that you are enrolled to vote is public, who you vote for is private. – Dale M Feb 21 '16 at 0:00
  • @DaleM I don't know about SC, but in many states a voter may declare a party affiliation when registering to vote. – phoog Feb 23 '16 at 5:56
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The state of South Carolina, like all states, has a commission or administrator of elections, which handles voter registration, candidate filings, administers the vote on elections days, interfaces with the public and the press, and sells voter data.

This voter data (as pointed out by Dale M) does not include the actual vote cast, but does indicate at very least the name, address, past years a vote was cast, and party affiliation.

Elections are seriously data driven these days. Voter data is bought by any serious national candidate for all 50 states and crunched/analyzed for the purposes of polling, making phone calls to you and home visits to talk with you directly.

Was the volunteer just misinformed?

Yes, the volunteer was wrong. The volunteer knows your name and your party affiliation and the past years you voted, but not your actual vote.

What info does it release and who can access it?

This is from The South Carolina State Election Commission http://www.scvotes.org/sale_of_voter_registration_lists

Any registered voter in South Carolina can purchase a list of registered voters....Voters can be selected by any combination of the following: county, election district (house, senate, congressional, county council, city council, school district, etc.), age, sex, race, household, participation in a particular election, and date of registration.

  • ... but not party affiliation? – phoog Feb 23 '16 at 5:58
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    That's interesting; when you go through the process of starting an order to buy voter info, you can select the party voted. But the site doesn't mention party voted as being available on the introductory page linked above; must be a mistake of omission. – BlueDogRanch Feb 23 '16 at 6:08

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