California DMV “Accidentally” Re-Registering Hundreds Of Voters As Non Affiliated

Whether by intent or incompetence, California officials are once again feeling the heat from another voter registration covfefe. This round involves the DMV’s new “motor voter” program, which automatically registers people to vote as they get their driver license or change their address. The DMV has “accidentally” been registering people as non affiliated instead of the party they actually signed up with, even if they had previously been registered to vote with the party of their choosing.

Fresno Bee initially reported:

At least 600 Californians, including lifelong Republicans and Democrats, have had their voter registration unexpectedly changed, and several county elections officials are pinning much of the blame on the state’s Department of Motor Vehicles.

Among those affected: the daughter of the California Senate’s GOP leader.

“I was like, ‘Kristin did you register as no party preference?’” asked Sen. Shannon Grove, R-Bakersfield. “She said, ‘No, I’m a Republican.’”

At least 600 Californians, including lifelong Republicans and Democrats, have had their voter registration unexpectedly changed, and several county elections officials are pinning much of the blame on the state’s Department of Motor Vehicles.

Among those affected: the daughter of the California Senate’s GOP leader.

“I was like, ‘Kristin did you register as no party preference?’” asked Sen. Shannon Grove, R-Bakersfield. “She said, ‘No, I’m a Republican.’”

Elections officials across the state are linking many of the reported complaints to the state’s new Motor Voter program, which launched ahead of the 2018 midterms to automatically register eligible voters when they visit the DMV. The 2015 law was designed to help boost participation, but a rushed launch prompted 105,000 registration errors to occur following its roll-out.

Janna Haynes, public information officer for Sacramento County Voter Registration & Elections, said the department has received “close to 200 calls from people saying they don’t think they were registered NPP” after the county recently sent out postcards to about 200,000 other people earlier this month.

Haynes noted two-thirds of the 200 complaints the department received came from people who have recently done business with the DMV.

Officials have tried to blame the DMV, as the article continues:

Last year, confusing DMV prompts contributed to an unusual spike in people being registered with no party preference.

Within the first months of the program’s launch, 52 percent of those who registered at the DMV declined to state a party, which is much higher than the 33 percent of those who registered with no party preference outside of the DMV.

A DMV prompt asked voters to either select a political party or click a button saying, “I do not wish to choose a political party.” Those who either skipped the question or decided not to choose a party were defaulted to no party preference, even if they had previously been registered with a qualified political party.

“The DMV is not aware of a computer glitch or system issue related to voter registration,” the department said in a statement. “DMV worked in partnership with the Secretary of State’s office to implement improvements to the party preference portion of the registration process in January 2019.”

Grove and her Republican colleagues want to suspend the Motor Voter program — a move Secretary of State Alex Padilla had briefly considered following a batch of errors last year.

California Secretary Of State, Alex Padilla, was quick to try to shed any blame, even though he oversees elections. He released this statement:

“Despite recent claims, there is no widespread glitch with the California Motor Voter program changing voters’ party affiliation. It is important to note that every voter registration at the DMV requires the voter to select their political party preference, review their selection, and attest to its accuracy. Since the launch of the Motor Voter program in April 2018, the Secretary of State’s office has worked with the DMV to continuously improve the registration experience for voters. In January 2019, the political party preference screens used in Motor Voter were updated to help voters better understand how they were registering.”

“Assigning blame for alleged mass voter registration errors without evidence is irresponsible and undermines public confidence in our elections. If a voter believes there may be an issue with their registration, they should contact the Secretary of State or their county elections office to research their voter registration history. In nearly every case, there is a reasonable explanation for any changes to a voter’s registration record.”

If you’re a Californian voter, best to check your registration to make sure nothing has “accidentally” changed. The Fresno Bee article recommends the different ways you can check:

 

The DMV and Sam Mahood, a spokesman for Padilla, encourage people to check their registration and party affiliation status at voterstatus.sos.ca.gov and make changes at registertovote.ca.gov.

In person: Changes can also be made by going in person to a local county elections office and filling out a new voter registration card.

Over the phone: People can also call their county’s elections department to get a new voter registration card to drop off in person or mail back or call 1-800-345-VOTE.

 

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