SAN FRANCISCO (CBS SF/AP) — Calling it unacceptable, Secretary of State Alex Padilla angrily criticized Department of Motor Vehicles officials Tuesday after they improperly registered about 1,500 people to vote in November’s election.
Padilla did not mince words when it came to the error.
“These mistakes from the DMV are totally unacceptable,” he told reporters. “It risks jeopardizing confidence in the electoral process which is why yesterday I called for an independent audit of the DMV’s technology and their practices…The DMV needs to get it together here real quick.”
The focus is on the national Motor Voter Law that allows voters to register at DMV offices.
Padilla said reports that all 1,500 people registered in error were non-citizens was not correct.
“We are not talking about 1,500 non-citizens,” he said. “What we are talking about is 1,500 individuals who either did not attest to their eligibility and that could be for a variety of reasons. Maybe it’s citizenship. Maybe it’s age. 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.”
Padilla said his staff was still “mining through the records to see what we are talking about here.”
He also emphasized that it was not an effort by the individuals to circumvent state voting requirements.
“It’s the DMV that made the mistake,” he said. “I’ve gotten calls overnight that these are people who are not eligible but were trying to register to vote. That is not the case. These are individuals who specifically told the DMV either I’m not eligible or would not confirm their eligibility and the DMV still mistakenly registered them.”
Padilla said his staff has “cancelled the registration of those 1,400-1,500 individuals.”
DMV Director Jean Shiomoto and California Department of Technology Director Amy Tong notified Padilla about the problem in a Monday letter. It’s the latest issue the department has reported with its new “motor voter” registration system. Last month, the department announced it may have botched about 23,000 voter registrations because of a separate error.
The DMV discovered the errors after the Los Angeles Times inquired about a Canadian who was incorrectly registered, the paper reported. The green card holder contacted the Times after he was mistakenly registered when he tried to replace his driver’s license at the DMV, the paper reported.
The department is working quickly to fix the problem, Shiomoto said.
California’s motor voter law letting residents automatically register to vote took effect in April. Since then, people have newly registered or updated their voter registration more than a million times. The new law is aimed at making it easier for people to register and boosting voter turnout.
Early voting for the Nov. 6 election began Monday.
© Copyright 2018 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.