California “motor voter” program registers thousands of voters twice

One person, one vote. That’s how it’s always supposed to work. But perhaps not if you happen to live in California and were pulled into the state’s “motor voter” registration system. Golden State officials only have a week to prepare for their primary elections, but a snag has shown up. The new voter registration system has apparently generated duplicate voter registration forms for tens of thousands of residents and the potential fallout could be serious indeed. (LA Times)

California’s elections officials have found themselves with an unexpected headache ahead of the June 5 primary: potentially thousands of cases where two voter registration forms were created for one person, errors caused by the state’s “motor voter” program that launched last month.

But local and state officials said Wednesday they don’t believe the foul-up has resulted in actual mistakes in California’s voter database. The errors are being resolved one at a time in each county’s elections office, a lengthy process that coincides with one of the busiest periods of the year.

“We don’t have the time to be researching this, but we have to because we’re being thrown into it,” said Kammi Foote, registrar of voters in Inyo County.

They don’t “believe” that the system generated errors in the voter database. But do they know? Nope. And now somebody has to go through each of the roughly 77,000 registration errors one at a time and find out what happened. In the two worst-case scenarios, officials believe one of two things could happen. For some, the duplication could result in their being unable to vote in party specific races. But for others, two ballots may be issued.

In 2016 the Voter Integrity Project identified multiple instances of people voting twice or even three times. But those were people who knowingly registered in multiple states and took the time and trouble to travel around to each location to cast multiple ballots. At least they had to work at it. In California, we may simply be rolling out an invitation for them to do so.

It’s not impossible to craft a registration system such as this which actually functions properly most of the time, but there are obviously complications which arise. This brings us back to the question of why we’re pursuing this “motor voter” idea in the first place. Why take an already complicated system which is subject to tampering or manipulation and make it even more complex? For most citizens, voting is a right, but in some sense, it’s also a privilege.

If you are a citizen of legal age and not prohibited because of felony convictions, nobody should be able to stop you from voting. But shouldn’t you also be willing to at least express an interest in voting and take the responsibility to go register? This idea of automatically registering people every time they show up at the DMV is problematic at best. Not only does it open up the possibility of malfunctions such as we’re seeing in California right now, but it’s also biased against people who don’t drive. Then you can add in the possibility that licenses issued to illegal aliens might wind up with their names on the voter rolls as well. (The state vigorously denies this can happen because “safeguards are in place” but they system also supposedly had safeguards against issuing two registrations.) Perhaps it’s time to reconsider the entire motor voter concept.

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