Six Californians who shouldn’t have been registered voted last year due to ‘DMV errors’

Customers wait in line at the Olive Avenue DMV office in Fresno in June.
Customers wait in line at the Olive Avenue DMV office in Fresno in June.

Six California residents who were erroneously added onto the voter rolls voted in last year’s midterms, the Secretary of State’s Office confirmed Friday afternoon following a months-long investigation.

According to Secretary of State Alex Padilla’s office, all six individuals voted in the primary and two of them also cast ballots in the 2018 general election. Their records have since been canceled and they are not being charged with a crime.

After a through review, Padilla concluded they were inadvertently registered through the state’s Motor Voter program “due to DMV errors.” The residents live in Sacramento, San Francisco, Los Angeles and San Diego counties.

Padilla’s office said the six people had no prior voting history but it could not determine whether they met registration eligibility requirements. It noted that none of the people were undocumented immigrants applying for AB 60 licenses.

To register to vote in California, you must be a U.S. citizen, a resident of California and 18 years old or older on Election Day.

“The six individuals were inadvertently registered through the California Motor Voter program due to DMV errors and based on state law are not guilty of fraudulently voting or attempting to vote,” Padilla’s office said in a statement. “All of these voter registrations have been canceled.”

The program launched on April 23, 2018 to automatically register eligible voters when they visit the Department of Motor Vehicles.

Data from the Secretary of State’s Office shows nearly 20 million ballots were cast in the 2018 primary and general election. Six votes would not have been enough to affect the outcome of a single race.

State Sen. John Moorlach, R-Costa Mesa, said the names should be disclosed to county district attorneys for further investigation. “If it’s voter fraud, that’s where the investigation should start.”

“We knew there was going to be the potential for mistakes because the Secretary of State insisted on moving forward prematurely,” Moorlach added. “This confirms what a lot of us were suspicious of. Now, the question is how do we correct it.”

Despite warnings from multiple election officials not to go forward with the program’s launch, Padilla proceeded.

In a 2015 hearing, he told lawmakers, “I don’t assume the incompetence of the DMV.”

In the months following the hasty roll-out, the DMV experienced 105,000 registration errors, including some people being inadvertently registered with the wrong party. A March report from the Department of Finance blamed the DMV for having a “reactive culture” when implementing Motor Voter.

DMV Communications Deputy Director Anita Gore said conditions that led to the problems have been addressed.

“Appropriate safeguards and quality assurance processes have been put into place to prevent such issues in the future,” she said in a statement. ”No recent issues have been identified as we continue to process tens of thousands of voter registrations each day.”

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Bryan Anderson is a political reporter for The Bee. He covers the California Legislature and reports on wildfires and transportation. He also hosts The Bee’s “California Nation” podcast.