FOIA - Freedom of Information Act Responses
Ballots, Ballot Images & CVRs are not subject to FOIA
The generic definition of “cast vote record” given by the United States Election Assistance Commission: “Permanent record of all votes produced by a single voter whether in electronic, paper or other form. Also referred to as ballot image when used to refer to electronic ballots.”
In South Carolina, the CVR includes the paper ballot itself, the scanned image of the ballot from the ballot scanner at the time the vote is cast, and the digital (electronic) record of the contents of individual cast ballots (i.e., record of votes on an individual ballot).
The SC Attorney General's Office was asked to address whether the public has the right under FOIA to inspect or obtain copies of voted ballots and related files or data associated with the new statewide voting system. The Attorney General's Office responded with an opinion advising that these records are not subject to FOIA.
Specifically, the types of records the opinion concluded are not subject to FOIA include:
- Voted ballots
- Scanned images of voted ballots
- Cast Vote Records (CVR)
With regards to requests for CVRs, the request is denied based on the provision of S.C. Code of Laws 30-4-40(a)(4), which exempts from public disclosure “matters specifically exempted from disclosure by statute or law.”. Disclosure of such records compromises the right to a secret ballot as preserved by Article II, Section 1, of the S.C. Constitution and therefore prohibited.
The Board of Voter Registration and Elections Office of York County, SC does not have any public records responsive to this request and that the reasoning for withholding the record is explained in the following SC Attorney General’s Opinion: https://www.scag.gov/opinions/opinions-archive/september-28-2020/
Contact the South Carolina Attorney General Office
Updated: 7/7/2022, 8/24/2022, 8/26/2022
Form Letter FOIA - Wednesday, July 6, 2022
"Form Letter" FOIA requests are request for information that are sent to all county board of election offices, county management offices, and the State Election Commission containing similar questions only differing in sender or county name.
Below are responses to questions received on Wednesday, July 6, 2022:
Is drop box video footage from the 2020 election saved and currently available for review? Drop box footage is, in fact, part of the electoral process and my understanding is that they may not be destroyed for 22 months following the election.
South Carolina does not use “drop boxes” as they are traditionally understood. In 2020, any absentee by-mail ballot drop off point had to be staffed, and the staff person had to receive the ballot from the person delivering it.
The three Absentee By-Mail drop off locations in York County for the 2020 General Election were managed by election staff for the each day of absentee time-frame.
The Fort Mill location ( Banks Street Gym ) was open for voting for 3-weeks prior to the election. To our knowledge, video records of the ballot drop off point for this location do not exist. The location is maintained by the Town of Fort Mill and we did not have access to any video recording system that may have been on site.
The Rock Hill location ( Rock Hill Operations Center ) was open for voting 2-weeks prior to the election. To our knowledge, video records of the ballot drop off point for this location do not exist. The location is maintained by the City of Rock Hill and we did not have access to any video recording system that may have been on site.
No-Use Notice in 2020:
H.5305/R.149, signed into law on September 16, 2020, made significant changes to absentee voting rules for the November 3, 2020 General Election. The use of unattended drop boxes is PROHIBITED for the November 3, 2020 General Election
The York location ( York County Government Center ) was open for voting during the entire Absentee By-Mail time-frame ( 30+ days). The Government Center, when constructed in 2018, included an unattended election materials drop box on the exterior of the building.
Per State Law, H.5305/R.149, signed into law on September 16, 2020, and prior to mailing the absentee by mail ballots, the election materials drop box was locked, sealed-off, and a no-use notice posted. All Absentee By-Mail ballots were returned or surrendered to an election official in the main office in York, Fort Mill location, or Rock Hill location. The Government Center video system is managed by the York County IT Department. Video records for the time-frame requested no longer exist and cannot be provided.
7/7/2022: This election materials drop box is currently locked, sealed-off, and a no-use notice posted for all elections.
An image of the election materials drop box at York County Government Center.
Please provide all relevant information and documentation as to how signatures are verified on election-related documents in York County. If software or online platforms are used to verify signatures, please provide any white papers, contracts, or memorandums of understanding with vendor names. Please respond with the time frame outlined in the Open Records/Public information act.
The only signature verification county boards are required or authorized by law to perform is during the petition checking processes.The Board of Voter Registration and Elections Office of York County does not utilize any signature verification technology. Items requested do not exist and cannot be provided.
Is York County using any SCYTL election products at any point in the voting/election process? Please provide all documentation of where and when SCYTL products are used.
Yes - SCTYL's Election Night Reporting (ENR) system is used in all major elections for web based public reporting of election results and it is only used for that purpose. Election results displayed on the ENR system is a copy of the official results from the election management system. The SC State Election Commission provides this tools to the county offices as a uniform process for reporting election results to the public.
2020 General Election ENR Upload Files and Timestamps for York County SC.
2020 General Election Results website for York County SC.
Here’s a description of how Scytl’s ENR product is used in the state:
The SEC has used the Election Night Results reporting platform (ENR) for all statewide elections since 2008. ENR is provided by a company named Scytl (pronounced sigh’-tul). The link to the ENR page is provided by the SEC through its website, scVOTES.gov. ENR is a proven results reporting platform not only in South Carolina but in hundreds of jurisdictions throughout the United States.
“Voting system” is defined by state law, and Scytl does not provide products or services that meet that statutory definition. Scytl products and services are only used to report to the public the results of an election. They are not used to count votes in order to produce an official result of an election nor are SCYTL products integrated in any way into the voting system.
ENR is not part of the voting system but simply one method of communicating results to the public. Results displayed through ENR have already been tabulated on the voting system. Tabulation occurs when the ballot is read by the ballot scanner – either by the voter when voting in person, or by the county board when tabulating absentee and provisional ballots.
Results are first reported at polling places on election night. Poll managers close the scanners and print a results tape. The results tape is posted publicly at the polling place. Poll managers return the thumb drives containing the electronic data stated on the results tapes to the county board office on election night. County election officials read the thumb drives into the voting system computer and release results reports from the voting system locally. With absentee ballots, county officials also produce a results report after scanning the ballots and then release the report locally.
Periodically throughout election night, county officials upload reports from the voting system to the ENR site. The SEC and county officials review those reports before publishing on the ENR site.
When county boards certify the results of an election, they are certifying the results of the reports taken directly from the voting system. Note again that these results are not a product of Scytl systems or services. When the SEC certifies results, the SEC is certifying the results certified by the county boards.
The SEC recognizes the importance of the accuracy and security of the ENR site. The SEC works with the vendor to ensure accuracy and that reasonable measures are being taken to secure the site. Incorrect results published on ENR would create confusion and undermine public confidence in the integrity of the election. However, if somehow the results displayed on ENR were not correct or were somehow compromised, it would have no direct impact on the integrity of the election or the actual, certified results of the election.