California DMV Mistakenly Registered 1,500 Individuals to Vote, Independent Audit Requested

October 11, 2018 Updated: October 16, 2018

California Secretary of State Alex Padilla called for an independent audit of the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) after the agency admitted that around 1,500 people including non-citizen individuals were wrongly registered to vote through the Motor Voter program during a period from April 23 to September 25.

At a press conference in regard to the cybersecurity of the midterm election on Oct. 9 in Sacramento, Padilla described the error caused by DMV as “unacceptable” and indicated the option to freeze the Motor Voter program is “certainly on the table.”

The DMV on Oct. 8 informed the California secretary of state office that “approximately 1,500 customers may have been registered to vote in error” but “this error has been corrected.” Padilla also confirmed that those 1,500 improper registrations have been canceled.

In September, the agency was found to have mishandled around 23,000 voters’ registration information, including giving people the wrong political party preference and sending non-qualified people’s information to the secretary of state.

The newly discovered 1,500 errors are believed to be a separate issue that was created during DMV staff members processing driver license applications, according to the Sacramento Bee.

The current Motor Voter program, which has been operated by DMV since April, allows applicants to register to vote when they request a driver license, identification card, or change of address transaction.

“These mistakes from DMV are absolutely unacceptable. We were told last month that the instance of the 23,000 … that they had a fix and while this problem seems to be different. It’s another mistake nonetheless … it risks jeopardizing confidence in the electoral process,” said Alex Padilla at the press conference.

Randall Marquis, a Canadian citizen and Newport Beach resident, told KXTV that he received a postcard from DMV telling him “congratulations, you’re registered to vote.”

“I thought, that’s the stupidest thing I’ve ever heard,” said Marquis, “If they’re still making these mistakes, it shouldn’t be hidden. Somebody should know about it. I don’t think anybody’s trying to commit fraud here. I think they’re just not up to the task of doing their job correctly.”

“I didn’t want the DMV to get away with the statement that they fixed their problem,” he added. “I also didn’t want the current administration to be able to in the future to turn around and say they lost seats in California because two million voters shouldn’t have been registered, then voted.”

In September, Governor Jerry Brown ordered the Department of Finance to conduct an audit of DMV after the agency was criticized for excessive wait times and outdated technology. After the DMV wrongly registered 1,500 people to vote, the Department of Finance claimed the audit of DMV will further cover its Motor Voter program.

The deadline to register to vote in the November election in California is Oct. 22.

“The stakes are too high as we approach the voter registration deadline and the November election to have any more mistakes like this,” said the Secretary of State Alex Padilla. “I’ve also asked for additional procedures or reviews to assure the accuracy of the data before they transmit from DMV to our office.”