Audit reveals new ‘Motor Voter’ flaws

Rebecca Neipp

News Review Staff Writer

The Department of Motor Vehicles came under further fire last Friday when an audit released by state officials showed nearly 84,000 duplicate voter registration records and more than 170,000 mistakes in partisan affiliation associated with the “Motor Voter” program.

Auditors reviewed more than three million voter registration files, comparing records from the DMV to those on file with the California Secretary of State.

The Motor Voter initiative was meant to streamline the process of voter registration, but for more than a year the program has been the target of complaints from voters whose registrations were rife with mistakes and unauthorized changes.

When furor over the program peaked following the 2018 election, it was just one of many scandals plaguing the DMV — including cost overruns, poor service and lengthy wait times – that ultimately prompted the state director to retire.

“This is another black mark for the DMV,” said State Sen. Republican Leader Shannon Grove. “The mismanagement and incompetence are unbelievable. This is just further proof that there needs to be a fair and independent audit of the DMV, followed by a complete overhaul, and the immediate suspension of the Motor Voter Law.”

“The scathing report on DMV’s ability to properly roll out its Motor Voter program continues to highlight the failed management that plagues this state agency and the flaws of our state’s IT capabilities,” said Assemblyman Vince Fong.

For two consecutive budget cycles starting in 2017-18, DMV was awarded an additional $23 million, then another $47 million to address department deficiencies.

In January the department asked for an additional $40 million.

Fong was among other California leaders who called for a comprehensive and independent audit of the beleaguered department.

He notes that the state’s recent findings support these historic concerns.

“The workers involved in the Motor Voter program told auditors ‘there was no clear decision maker on the project as a whole’ — which is appalling and unacceptable.

“The result is more public distrust in the DMV’s ability to handle core functions.”

Steve Gordon has been appointed by Gov. Gavin Newsom to head up the DMV. He said he is working with the office of Secretary of State Alex Padilla to implement changes proposed by the auditors.

Story First Published: 2019-08-16