California DMV mistakenly registers ineligible voters

California Secretary of State Alex Padilla ordered a third-party investigation and will cancel the ineligible voter registrations.


Jonny Rico

The California DMV implemented a program to automatically register ID and driver license renewals to vote. The program registered 1,500 ineligible voters. By Jonny Rico.

Carla Zuniga, Staff Writer

The California Department of Motor Vehicles mistakenly registered 1,500 individuals to vote, according to multiple news organizations including the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times and The Orange County Register.

The mistaken registrations are in addition to the already 23,000 reported registration errors last month. The DMV’s new voter enrollment program, which automatically registers people to vote when they renew their driver’s license or ID, is credited for the record-setting voter registration numbers across the state.  

California Secretary of State Alex Padilla placed the blame squarely on the shoulders of the DMV and described the situation as “absolutely unacceptable” in an Oct. 9 press conference shared online by CBS Los Angeles.

Due to the proximity to the midterm elections and the severity of the errors, Padilla launched an audit by a third-party inspector to take a closer look.

Padilla announced that his staff has “canceled the registration of those 1,400-1,500 individuals.”

Padilla also addressed the rumors claiming that the 1,500 mistaken voter registrations were undocumented immigrants.  

While the situation is still under investigation, Padilla explained that there are many reasons why one is not eligible to vote.

“Maybe it’s citizenship, maybe it’s age,” Padilla said. “You are also not eligible to vote in California if you are on parole for felony conviction (and) your parole has not been completed. There’s different reasons for not being eligible.”   

CBS Los Angeles reported the law that started the program took effect April 2018. The law is aimed to facilitate the registration process and boost voter turnout.

The DMV discovered the latest errors after the Los Angeles Times asked for comment about a Canadian who was incorrectly registered.

Individuals worried about their DMV voter registration or voting record can check their status online.

In order to vote in the upcoming midterm elections, citizens must register by Oct. 22.