CALmatters

The one thing the California DMV does make it easy to do

A DMV office in Oakland, California. Photo by Jane Tyska/Bay Area News Group

Republicans running statewide in California don’t have numbers on their side, with just one-fourth of the state’s voters registered GOP. But they do have the DMV, which sure is making it easy for the underdogs to attack California’s Democratic-controlled state government.

First came the absurdly long wait times—more than four hours at some DMV offices. GOP gubernatorial candidate John Cox seized on the crisis, making the rounds at several DMV offices where he passed out water and introduced himself to a captive audience of ticked-off voters.

Then came the news that the DMV messed up 23,000 voter registrations—changing party affiliations and other information of some Californians who registered to vote at a Department of Motor Vehicles field office.

“It’s creating a lot of concern among voters that the voter integrity is just not there,” Mark Meuser, the Republican candidate for secretary of state, said Tuesday during a San Diego television appearance.

Secretary of State Alex Padilla, a Democrat, said “it’s absolutely frustrating and beyond disappointing that these errors occurred.”

But, he pointed out in an interview with CALmatters, the erroneous registrations only amount to about 1.5 percent of the transactions the DMV processed during the period from April to August when the mistakes happened.

“The DMV identified the issue, they’ve made the corrections where necessary, and put mechanisms in place to make sure it doesn’t happen again,” Padilla said. “We’re working with them to notify all the impacted Californians to verify their registration record, make sure their party affiliation is correct, their vote by mail information is correct, all those sorts of things, to clean it up.”

He encouraged Californians to visit this website to check the status of their registrations and this one to make any changes.

It was the second major voter registration snafu since the DMV rolled out a relatively new “Motor Voter” process in April. Under the “Motor Voter” program, Californians who are eligible to vote are automatically registered when they do a transaction at the DMV, unless they opt out.

Padilla championed the program as a way to make it easier for Californians to participate in elections. Two million additional Californians have registered to vote since he took office four years ago.