COLUMBIA — An independent political group plans to make phone calls to 1 million households in South Carolina using an automated system that disparages Republican presidential candidate Mike Huckabee's opponents despite a state law that says such practices are illegal in this early voting state.

South Carolina law prohibits "automatically dialed announcing device" calls to people for political or commercial purposes, though such calls are commonplace.

South Carolina Attorney General Henry McMaster said the calls are clearly against the law, but added he didn't think anyone had ever been prosecuted.

The first round of South Carolina calls last weekend caught Catherine Smith, 33, by surprise in her Charleston home. She leans toward former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney in the race.

The call, using an automated system that responded to her voice, started like a normal political polling call. When she responded that she was supporting Romney, however, Smith said the call moved away from opinion-getting to opinion-shaping.

Depending on which candidate is supported, the message changes.