‘Election integrity’ bill dead in committee

Rebecca Neipp

News Review Staff Writer

‘Election integrity’ bill dead in committeeA bill that would have fixed flaws in the Motor Voter program was voted down in the California Senate earlier this week.

In 2018 numerous scandals that compromised the finances and services of California’s Department of Motor Vehicles and shook public confidence in the public agency. In the end, the top staffer resigned and the legislature began to examine how to correct overspending and long waits for service.

Among the challenges for DMV were the widespread inaccuracies in the Motor Voter program — ranging from incorrect party preferences to misreported voter addresses to the registration of non-U.S. citizens.

Members of the California Senate Republican Caucus authored SB 57 as a proposed correction for the program, but the bill died in the Senate Elections and Constitutional Amendments Committee.

State Sen. Republican Leader Shannon Grove, who represents Ridgecrest and most of Kern County, expressed her disappointment in the partisan vote that killed the bill.

“Legislative Republicans have warned Democrats about the flawed Motor Voter program. Since its implementation, there have been nonstop problems. Election integrity is imperative to a fair democracy. Let’s be clear this vote by Senate Democrats was against election integrity,” she said.

State Sen. Patricia Bates, the lead author of the bill, said that the Secretary of State’s office and the DMV have underplayed the problems with automatic registration.

“The decision to register to vote should be made by the individual, not the state. Those who oppose my bill fail to appreciate that an ‘opt-in’ process gives citizens more control over their own voter registrations and reduces opportunities for errors and fraud. I will continue to fight for election integrity, including working with my colleagues to make a simple fix to provide clarity to customers who visit DMV offices.”

Co-authors of SB 57 added to their concerns regarding ongoing problems with the program, including the mishandling of voters’ personal information, as well as the state’s failure to comprehensively address the problem.

Some also questioned linking registration to a service so disconnected to elections.

“The DMV is hardly the appropriate place to register voters — especially while it infamously struggles to handle its own mission,” said State Sen. Scott Wilk of Santa Clarita.

“SB 57 would have put safeguards in place to protect voters from the endless chain of bureaucratic blunders and ensure people are able to exercise their right to vote.”

Story First Published: 2020-01-10