Yesterday we looked at the rolling disaster in California’s motor voter registration system, where an additional 1,500 residents were improperly registered to vote. That was on top of the 23,000 improper registrations they announced in September, and many of them are likely non-citizens, though supposedly not illegal aliens. After hearing this news I asked the following question about using the DMV to automatically register people to vote.

Handling voter registration is outside their original, core mission. Regulating the activities of motorists is entirely unrelated, and DMV offices around the nation have been demonstrating this for a quarter of a century now. Besides, California (as with the rest of the states) already had a governmental body responsible for voter registration. If you thought they weren’t doing a good enough job shouldn’t you have taken it up with them?

At the time I didn’t hold out much hope that California would take such a question seriously, given how much they’ve invested in it and their desperation to turn out more lower income and minority voters. To my great surprise, less than a day later, state government leaders are asking the same question. Is it time to shut down this motor voter thing until they can figure out how to do it competently? (San Luis Obispo News)

Trying to get tens of thousands of voter registration errors under control, California Secretary of State Alex Padilla may temporarily halt a program that automatically registers voters through the Department of Motor Vehicles.

A freeze to the state’s Motor Voter program is “certainly on the table,” Padilla said at a news conference on Tuesday.

“We’re doing the homework as we speak of what does that mean and what it would take,” Padilla said. “These mistakes from the DMV are absolutely unacceptable.”

Secretary of State Padilla is claiming that all 1,500 of the newly discovered, improper registrations were removed. Fair enough. But what does that mean going forward?

They’re talking about “freezing” the motor voter registrations, but nobody seems to be sure how they would pull that off. The press asked Padilla how it could be done and he declined to comment. There seems to be some consensus that it would require legislative action, but the state legislature is in recess until January. Others are asking the Governor to take some sort of executive action, but it’s unclear if he can legally wave a magic wand and alter the voter registration process. Meanwhile, the DMV offices would continue to register voters right up through the election.

The dates don’t impact this decision significantly. California allows registration to vote in person right up to the day of the election. (There is an October 22nd deadline to register to vote online or by mail.) We should also keep in mind that this was only discovered initially through an audit, and up until very recently, DMV audits weren’t even looking at the motor voter part of their process. The other states with similar programs in place should begin audits immediately if they haven’t done so already.