California DMV May Have Botched 23,000 Voter Registrations

SACRAMENTO — The Department of Motor Vehicles says agency technicians may have botched about 23,000 Californians' voter registrations under the state's new "motor voter" law, according to a letter Wednesday from the department.

The DMV sent the Secretary of State's office incorrect information for some voters, according to the letter DMV Director Jean Shiomoto and Department of Technology Director Amy Tong sent Secretary of State Alex Padilla. The department says the errors mostly affected customers' vote-by-mail, language and political party selections.

It appears that DMV technicians who were filling out voter registration forms were on multiple screens that were not switched, meaning that some voter information from the previous person was advanced to the voter form.

It’s an error the DMV discovered on its own but it doesn’t help an agency that is already under siege.

The DMV will send out letters to 23,000 customers who registered to vote at the DMV between April 23 and Aug. 5 saying:

"DMV transmitted voter information to elections officials that was different than the information provided by customers, such as whether they chose to vote by mail, their choice of political party, and whether they intended to register to vote."

It asks those voter registrants to check their registration and contact the Secretary of State’s office to make any changes.

The error did not allow anyone living in the country without authorization to register to vote, the Department of Motor Vehicles said.

California's motor voter law letting residents automatically register to vote took effect in April. People registered or updated their voter registration about 1.4 million times through Aug. 5, the department said.

The latest DMV mess didn’t surprise some, who have had bad dealings with the DMV before, including the scandalously long wait times that only now are being lowered.

DMV Director Jean Shiomoto has already been under fire from politicians in an election year for what they call administrative incompetence.

She argued against a legislative audit saying it would waste time in rectifying wait time problems they knew how to solve. But it was an internal audit that discovered the so-called motor voter missteps.

Secretary of State Alex Padilla is a big booster of motor voter registration but now has to deal with the mess the DMV has created by the erroneous voter registrations.

"I am extremely disappointed and deeply frustrated that DMV's administrative error caused inaccurate voter registration data to be transmitted to elections officials," Padilla said in a written statement.

In Sacramento County, under a pilot program, you can register to vote and make changes up to the day of the election. But elsewhere it is up to the voter to make sure voter information is right or you may get the wrong ballot or no ballot at all.

It's best to do it sooner rather than later.

To make sure your voter information is correct visit voterstatus.sos.ca.gov. If your information is incorrect you must re-register to vote.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.