DMV ‘Motor Voter’ System May Harm Election Integrity in California

November 2, 2018 Updated: November 3, 2018

With less than one week to go before the Nov. 6 midterm elections, the issue of election integrity is once again being discussed throughout the country.

On the national stage, U.S. officials are calling out foreign powers such as China and Russia for their attempts to sabotage America’s electoral process, while many in California are blaming the high level of voter fraud on the carelessness of state politicians.

At issue is the state’s new “motor voter” system, which was rolled out on April 23 this year. Under this law, people are automatically registered to vote after completing a transaction with the Department of Motor Vehicle (DMV), if they are deemed eligible and don’t decline.

Their names are then added to the voter rolls, and it is the job of the Secretary of State to review the rolls and remove the names of those who are not eligible.

Recently, a slew of registration mistakes have been announced, prompting Secretary of State Alex Padilla on Oct. 11 to direct the DMV to add an additional layer of manual review before transferring people’s names to the voter rolls.

“Before each batch of motor voter files is transmitted to your office, a representative sample … will be selected, reviewed, and certified manually,” DMV Director Jean Shiomoto and Amy Tong, director of California’s Department of Technology, wrote in a letter to Padilla the following day. “This will ensure that only persons who have attested to their eligibility to vote under California’s law will be transmitted to your office.”

While the motor voter system has been praised by some for increasing voter registration significantly, over 100,000 errors have been recorded under the new system.

“We saw back in May of this year, 78,000 people had their party registration removed without their consent,” said Mark Meuser, the Republican candidate for California Secretary of State, in an interview with The Epoch Times. Meuser is facing Padilla in this election.

“Then about a month ago we learned that 23,000 people had been added to the voter rolls improperly, and then three weeks ago we learned that 3,000 people were added to the voter rolls mistakenly, and then yesterday we learned 1,500 people were added to the voter rolls improperly,” Meuser said.

He said that it is a demonstration of the current secretary of state not doing his job.

“[If I’m elected] we are going to set up better databases. We’re going to actually set up databases that allow us to properly determine if somebody is a citizen or not, based upon paperwork that they have with the DMV,” he said.

Meuser said that if elected, he will change the motor voter program.

“The motor voter program is an absolute disaster, it has failed miserably, and we are going to go back to the drawing board and redraw it,” he said.

In the United States, if a non-citizen casts a vote, he or she will likely be denied citizenship when applying and can be deported.

“That is not an incidental mistake; that is a life-changing mistake made by a government that affects the lives of people who are trying to immigrate to the U.S.,” Meuser said.

“There are consequences to these mistakes, and that is why you do not roll out voter programs like this without properly checking it to make sure that the laws are followed, that people’s lives are not changed,” Meuser added.

California had an election integrity problem even before the motor voter system.

In December 2017, Judicial Watch filed a lawsuit against the state when its investigation revealed that 11 of 58 counties had voter registration rates exceeding 100 percent of their age-eligible citizenry.

The counties were Imperial, Lassen, Los Angeles, Monterey, San Diego, San Francisco, San Mateo, Santa Cruz, Solano, Stanislaus, and Yolo. Los Angeles County’s registration rate was 144 percent.