California: Hundreds of California voters are being registered with the wrong party. Is DMV to blame? | Bryan Anderson/The Fresno Bee

At least 600 Californians, including lifelong Republicans and Democrats, have had their voter registration unexpectedly changed, and several county elections officials are pinning much of the blame on the state’s Department of Motor Vehicles. Among those affected: the daughter of the California Senate’s GOP leader. “I was like, ‘Kristin did you register as no party preference?’” asked Sen. Shannon Grove, R-Bakersfield. “She said, ‘No, I’m a Republican.’” Grove’s daughter had recently visited the Department of Motor Vehicles to change her address. Shortly thereafter, Sacramento County sent her a postcard informing her she is now registered as a “No Party Preference” voter ahead of California’s March 3, 2020 presidential primary. Grove stumbled across the notice earlier this week at her daughter’s Sacramento home, and worries that hundreds more could soon experience a similar unwanted surprise. Elections officials across the state are linking many of the reported complaints to the state’s new Motor Voter program, which launched ahead of the 2018 midterms to automatically register eligible voters when they visit the DMV. The 2015 law was designed to help boost participation, but a rushed launch prompted 105,000 registration errors to occur following its roll-out.

California: California tech official rushed Motor Voter, despite testing issues | Bryan Anderson/The Sacramento Bee

The California government technology officials who developed an automatic voter registration program for the Department of Motor Vehicles last year raced to the finish line even though they acknowledged they should have slowed down. In April 2018, the state delayed the launch of its Motor Voter program by one week because of technical errors, inadequate testing and infrastructure concerns, according to records obtained by The Sacramento Bee. Amy Tong, director of the California Department of Technology, told colleagues working on the project the morning of the scheduled launch that, “In some strange way, this maybe (sic) a sign that we need to slow down in order to go fast again.” The one-week delay may not have been enough time.

California: Can DMV be trusted to register voters after 23,000 botched registrations? | San Jose Mercury News

The California Department of Motor Vehicles’ acknowledgement this week that it botched 23,000 voter registrations is raising new questions about whether it can be trusted to register voters at a time when election integrity is under renewed scrutiny nationwide. The DMV said the errors are being corrected and that new safeguards — put in place after the mistakes surfaced — seem to be working. But the registration mistakes come at a time when the DMV is already under fire over massive backlogs in processing new federally compliant IDs, known as Real IDs. “Waiting in line is one thing, but having your voter registration tampered with without your knowledge or consent is a very disturbing development,” Assemblyman Jim Patterson, R-Fresno, said Thursday. “This touches on the very security and honestly the sacredness of a person’s registration and votes. This calls into question the ability of the DMV to manage voter registration.”

California: DMV mishandled thousands of voter registrations | The Sacramento Bee

The California Department of Motor Vehicles on Wednesday said it has discovered it sent the Secretary of State’s Office 23,000 erroneous voter registrations. The agency said the errors occurred within the state’s Motor Voter program — which allows eligible applicants getting a driver license to be automatically registered to vote. The DMV said the errors stem from technicians toggling between multiple screens and registration information being improperly merged. According to the agency, 1,600 residents did not complete a voter registration affidavit and had their information sent to the secretary of state, which maintains the state’s list of registered voters. The DMV said none of the applicants were undocumented immigrants. “We are committed to getting this right and are working closely with the Secretary of State’s office to correct the errors that occurred,” DMV Director Jean Shiomoto said in a statement.

Nevada: DMV chief criticizes alleged voter fraud investigation | Las Vegas Review-Journal

DMV Director Terri Albertson said a letter sent to her office late Friday by Secretary of State Barbara Cegavske came “as a complete surprise.” In a written response to Cegavske, Albertson said, “you and your office have reviewed, contributed to, and approved the processes you are expressing concerns about.” The Republican secretary of state late Friday announced an investigation into alleged voter fraud, saying her office has uncovered evidence that noncitizens had cast ballots in the November election. Non-U.S. citizens who are in the country legally and live in Nevada can obtain a state driver’s license. Those without legal status can obtain a driver authorization card, which cannot be used as formal identification. Neither are eligible to vote.

Nevada: Sandoval waiting for details about alleged voter fraud in Nevada | Las Vegas Review-Journal

Gov. Brian Sandoval said Monday that he “expects to hear more” from the secretary of state about allegations of voter fraud, and he expressed confidence in voter registration procedures at the Department of Motor Vehicles. Secretary of State Barbara Cegavske took state officials, including the governor and the DMV director, by surprise late Friday when she announced that her office had uncovered evidence that noncitizens had voted in last year’s presidential election. Cegavske in a letter blamed the DMV, claiming that the agency’s personnel had given voter registration materials to people they knew or should have known were ineligible to vote. In a letter to DMV Director Terri Albertson, Cegavske said the practice must “cease immediately.” Cegavske is a Republican and former state legislator from Las Vegas.

Nevada: Secretary of state alleges voter fraud, blames DMV | Associated Press

Nevada’s secretary of state has launched a voter fraud investigation, claiming the Department of Motor Vehicles may have inadvertently added a number of people to the voter rolls who were not citizens in the last presidential election. Nevada Secretary of State Barbara Cegavske made the announcement in a letter Friday evening to the state DMV director, Terri Albertson. Albertson hit back Saturday, in a response letter back to Cegavske that read in part: “Your letter comes as a complete surprise as you and your office have reviewed, contributed to, and approved the processes you are expressing concerns about.”

Alabama: Department of Transportation: Alabama to expand driver’s license office hours after probe |

U.S. Department of Transportation officials said Wednesday that Alabama has agreed to expand driver’s license office hours after determining that black residents in the state were disproportionately hurt by a slate of closures and reductions in 2015. The federal agency launched an investigation last year after Alabama, citing budget concerns, shuttered 31 part-time offices where examiners gave driving tests about once per week. The state said the closures were aimed at the offices that issued the fewest licenses each year, but the closures also came down hard on rural and heavily minority communities. It left more than a third of Alabama’s 67 counties without a license office, including eight of the state’s 11 counties with a majority African-American population.

Pennsylvania: Voter registration through DMV fails some voters | Pocono Record

Michael Diaz went to vote at Our Lady of Victory Church Hall in Tannersville Election day morning. Like so many, he had registered to vote through the Department of Motor Vehicles when he applied for a driver’s license. Diaz was told he wasn’t registered at the sign-in desk, and wouldn’t be able to vote. Instead, he was directed to a second desk where he was able to register, but told he wouldn’t be able to vote until the next election. “They were telling me they’ve been having these problems all morning,” Diaz said of the poll workers he spoke with. His situation does not seem to be isolated. “I’ve received some calls from people who have registered through their driver’s renewals and it didn’t go through,” said Pennsylvania Department of State’s Sandy Dekyi, who was fielding complaints from voters. “They are aware of the situation in Harrisburg.”

Connecticut: Justice Department Signs Off On ‘Motor Voter’ Settlement | Hartford Courant

The state and the U.S. Justice Department reached a settlement to resolve claims that Connecticut’s method of registering voters at the Department of Motor Vehicles was not in compliance with federal law. Under a program beginning next week, applications for driver’s licenses and identification cards will effectively serve as voter registration applications unless a customer specifically opts out. And when a customer changes the address on file at the DMV, that information will be reflected on the voter rolls unless they make a different request. “The motor voter provision of the [National Voter Registration Act of 1993] critically supports and enhances our citizens’ access to the democratic process,” U.S. attorney Deirdre M. Daly said in a statement. “Compliance with those requirements plays an important role in ensuring that all Conneticut citizens can more easily exercise their right to vote.”

Alabama: Bill would require driver’s license offices to be open 2 days a week |

On the last day of the legislative session last week, Alabama lawmakers passed a bill requiring the state to operate a driver’s license office in every county at least two days a week. The bill, by Sen. Hank Sanders, D-Selma, passed the House of Representatives by a vote of 99-1 on Wednesday. It had earlier passed the Senate by a vote of 24-3.There was no immediate word from Gov. Robert Bentley’s office on whether he will sign it into law. Bentley could let the bill die without his signature.

California: DMV Voter Registration is more complicated than it looks | San Francisco Chronicle

Voter registration at the Department of Motor Vehicles was supposed to make democracy easier, not harder. The reality has been far more complicated. A wrinkle in the DMV’s current process has left many voters in the cold during this hotly contested primary season. As of April 1, the DMV has switched from a largely paper-based registration system to one using computer terminals. The change allows customers to complete their registration without having to fill out a separate form — but registering with a political party requires a second, separate terminal in a different room. More than a third of those who have registered at the DMV since April have not completed the questions at the separate computer terminal. The two-step process has resulted in many potential voters missing out on the chance to record their language, ballot and — crucially — party preferences. The Republican Party’s presidential primary is only open to Republican voters.

California: Registered to vote at the DMV? Check again. Many who use the new process miss a vital step two | Los Angeles Times

If you’ve visited the DMV in the last few weeks, you may have noticed that you can now complete your voter registration at the same time you renew your driver’s license — without having to fill out a separate form. But it’s a little more complicated than that. Unless voters also stop to answer questions at a computer terminal in another room, they will be registered as having no party preference. Voter advocates say this two-step process could disenfranchise thousands of voters, especially those who still want to vote in the Republican Party’s closed presidential primary. Since the terminals were rolled out April 1, the Department of Motor Vehicles has registered more than 14,000 voters in its offices statewide. Of those, 4,747 people — more than one-third — did not complete questions posed at the touch screens.

Editorials: States Are Falling Short In Providing Voter Access | Brenda Wright and Adam Ambrogi/National Law Journal

Shelley Zelda Small is a 62-year-old Los Angeles resident who believes in voting as a civic duty and has voted in every election since she was 19 years old. So when she moved from Encino, California, to West Hollywood in August 2014, and reported her address change to the Department of Motor Vehicles, she made sure to ask the DMV to update her voter registration as well. But when she arrived at her local polling place last November, she was told she was not on the registration rolls and was turned away – for the first time in her life, Small lost her opportunity to vote. The good news is that, due to a new law approved this last month in California and advocacy by national and California-based voting rights groups, the DMV will be adopting an automated voter registration process that will, in most cases, seamlessly update voter registrations when voters report a move — solving the problem for Small and millions more like her. In mid-November, another state took a major step in the right direction. Alabama, conceding that it had never truly complied with a registration law, settled a case with the U.S. Department of Justice. The agreement made important changes to how the state motor-vehicle agencies support voter registration for eligible Alabama residents. The case is notable because the DOJ has not brought an action against a state under the “motor voter” provision of the National Voter Registration Act since at least 2002. California and Alabama were not alone in needing to improve its registration process. It appears that many states are falling short on their obligations to make voter registration widely accessible at DMVs and other agencies serving the public, according to an extensive investigation by Demos, a public policy group. Potentially tens of millions of eligible ­voters are being left off the voter rolls as a result.

Alabama: DOJ and Alabama reach settlement on voting rights noncompliance | Examiner

Nearly three months ago, the nation lost Alabama native and legendary voting rights activist Amelia Boynton Robinson at the age of 104. She is likely looking down at her state and smiling today, for it has reached a settlement with the Department of Justice end its noncompliance with the Motor Voter Law. According to the Alabama Media Group, the state has agreed to add a voter registration section to its standard driver’s license and license renewal applications. This change will also apply to online applications, which is significant because the state closed 30 driver’s licence offices earlier this year, claiming budget cuts. Additionally, the state’s residents will now have their voting address information automatically updated when they submit a change of address for their driver’s licences.

Alabama: Federal prosecutor on DMV closures: Alabama Legislature threw ALEA ‘under the bus’ in budget |

George Beck, the U.S. Attorney for the Middle District of Alabama, says Alabama Gov. Robert Bentley could do more to address concerns about the closing of 31 drivers’ license offices, mainly in rural communities around the state, than just re-opening them one day a week. But Beck didn’t put all the blame on Bentley for the DMV closings in the first place. He said the Alabama Legislature threw the department that runs the DMV offices “under the bus” in this year’s budget. Beck said he plans to meet with Bentley in the coming days to discuss the DMV closures. He said in making his plea to the governor he wants to “make certain that any people, of any race, in any county, are not denied the right to register to vote.”

Alabama: Amid voting rights criticism, Alabama partially backs off controversial plan to close driver license offices | The Washington Post

The governor of Alabama has partially reversed a decision to close more than 30 government offices that issue driver licenses and photo IDs, following weeks of criticism by civil rights advocates and Democratic lawmakers who say the action would make it harder for some black residents to get the identification needed to vote. On Friday, Gov. Robert Bentley (R) said that instead of fully closing the 31 offices, most in rural communities around the state, the facilities would open once a month to serve residents. The closures are part of service cuts in several agencies to balance the state’s budget, state officials say. Bentley took issue with the implication that his actions were racially motivated. “To suggest the closure of the driver’s license offices is a racial issue is simply not true, and to suggest otherwise should be considered an effort to promote a political agenda,” Bentley said in a statement. The initial reaction to the office closures when first announced indicates that the racially charged debate around voting rights will continue as the parties gear up for the 2016 presidential election.

Editorials: Alabama’s DMV Closures Disfranchises Black Voters | Lauren Carasik/Al Jazeera

On Sept. 30, Alabama announced plans to shutter nearly half its driver’s license offices, citing budget constraints. The decision came a year after the state implemented a new ID requirement to vote, purportedly to protect against voter fraud. At least half a million Alabamans, or 20 percent of the state’s registered voters, lack a driver’s license or alternative DMV-issued ID. As with the restrictive ID law, civil rights advocates say the closure of 31 DMV offices — disproportionately affecting poor, rural communities where black people make up a large share of the population — narrows access to IDs and, as a result, will disfranchise black voters. State officials insist that their decision was not race based. Irrespective of intent, the move will suppress black votes. The closures target communities that lack easy access to public transportation. Nearly 14 percent of black families do not own a vehicle, while only 4 percent of families are without private transportation. Of the 10 counties with the highest percentages of black residents, only two will have DMV offices. Unsurprisingly, the DMV closures affect 53 percent of the 15 counties that voted for President Barack Obama in 2012 and the five counties that voted most heavily Democratic in that election. Meanwhile, 40 offices will remain open in the 55 counties that are predominantly white.

Alabama: Driver’s license offices could reopen under Bentley plan |

Alabama Gov. Robert Bentley is seeking legislative support for a plan that would reopen 31 closed rural driver’s license offices. The plan would involve a “bridge loan” from the governor’s emergency fund to pay for staffing closed license offices, officials say. In return, Bentley wants rural and black lawmakers to support permanent funding when the Legislature convenes next year. Government sources say Bentley has not committed finally to the plan yet, but has floated the idea to seek lawmakers’ response. Bentley’s office said last week he would seek solutions to keep the offices open and, on Friday, the rural legislative caucus headed by state Rep. David Standridge (R-Hayden) asked caucus members for feedback on a bridge loan idea from Bentley. The governor’s office had no immediate comment Tuesday morning.

Alabama: For Alabama’s Poor, the Budget Cuts Trickle Down, Limiting Access to Driver’s Licenses | The New York Times

It is about an hour and 10 minutes to Tuscaloosa, the nearest big city to this little knot of houses and churches in the Alabama pines. For the hundreds in this poor county who do not have a car or a friend with the spare time, someone can usually be found who is willing to give a ride. For a fee, of course. “You want to get to T-town, it’s at least $50,” said William Bankhead, 56, sitting in front of a boarded-up building that was once Panola’s general store. “We’re a long ways from a place.” As of last week, Tuscaloosa is the nearest location where a person here can get a driver’s license, after the state decided to stop providing services at 31 satellite locations around the state. The fallout from this decision has been widespread: national politicians and civil rights advocates have condemned Alabama for shuttering the locations, many of them in the state’s majority black counties, just a year after requiring that people show photo identification at the polling locations.

National: Hoyer: Alabama DMV Closures Prove That Voting Rights Act Must Be Restored | TPM

House Minority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-MD) renewed his call for the restoration of the Voting Rights Act, suggesting Monday that it would have stopped Alabama from implementing a law requiring a photo ID at the ballot box. Scrutiny of the voter ID law has increased with the announcement that Alabama will close 31 driver’s licenses offices in the state – many in rural counties with a high percentage of black residents – which voting rights advocates fear will make it harder for African-Americans to obtain the IDs required vote. “The Voting Rights Act was born from the bloody actions in Selma, Alabama, in March 1965, and since the Supreme Court struck down one of its most important protections – the federal Justice Department’s ability to prevent discriminatory rules like Alabama’s photo identification requirement – our democracy has been weakened,” Hoyer said in a statement Monday evening.

Alabama: DMV closings draw call for federal voting rights probe | MSNBC

An Alabama congresswoman has formally asked the U.S. Department of Justice to investigate the state’s shuttering of driver’s license offices in several heavily black counties, warning that the closures throw up another obstacle to voting. The call for a federal probe comes as opposition to the state’s decision, announced last Wednesday, continues to mount. “These closures will potentially disenfranchise Alabama’s poor, elderly, disabled, and black communities,” wrote Rep. Terri Sewell in a letter sent Monday to Attorney General Loretta Lynch. “To restrict the ability of any citizen to vote is an assault on the rights of all Americans to equally participate in the electoral process.” Sewell, a Democrat whose district includes Selma, the historical birthplace of the push for African-American voting rights, called for “a full and thorough investigation by DoJ.”

Alabama: Why The Alabama DMV Closures Struck Such A Nerve With Voting Rights Activists | TPM

The state of Alabama has been accused of bringing back Jim Crow for closing 31 driver’s licenses offices in the state — including all the offices in counties where African Americans make up more than 75 percent of the registered voters — which critics say will further disenfranchise minority voters in a state that requires government-issued photo IDs at the ballot box. The backlash Alabama is now facing reflects the state’s long history of blocking African Americans access to the polls, from 1965’s Selma protests that ushered in the Voting Rights Act in the first place to the 2013 Supreme Court decision in the Shelby County case that gutted a key provision of it. The latest episode involves Alabama’s widely criticized voter ID law colliding with a broke government that can’t fund basic services. State officials are now on the defensive, denying that the closures — many of them in counties in what is known as Alabama’s “Black Belt” — will make it harder for African Americans to vote.

Alabama: How Alabama will save $11 million — but undermine claims that Voter ID is race-neutral | The Washington Post

Officially, the news out of Alabama is this: Alabama’s Republican-controlled legislature and governor’s office are committed to cutting the state’s budget and the size of state government. That means the state will slice into the money available to a number of public agencies. And the Department of Public Safety, which includes the state’s offices that issue driver’s licenses, will simply have to take an $11 million hit. To make that math work, the agency will shutter driver’s license offices in the state’s most sparsely populated counties.

But the net effect is this: Every county in which black voters comprise more than 75 percent of the voter rolls and the bulk of Alabama communities that overwhelmingly voted for President Obama in 2012 will see their driver’s license offices close.

Not surprisingly, civil rights and civil liberties groups across the state and the only black member of Alabama’s congressional delegation have said plainly that the state’s seemingly race-neutral move to save money is anything but.

Alabama: Congressional Black Caucus Blasts State’s DMV Office Closures As Discriminatory Toward Minority Voters | International Business Times

A group of African-American lawmakers on Friday blasted a decision by Alabama officials to shutter dozens of driver’s license offices, a move that disproportionately affects government ID services in black Democratic areas of the state. Given the state’s 2011 law that requires voters to show government-issued IDs before casting election ballots, closing the offices potentially disenfranchises thousands of black and minority voters, the Congressional Black Caucus said. “Alabama’s decision to close ID offices reminds us that 50 years after the passage of the Voting Rights Act, the fight for equal access to the polls still continues today,” the caucus said in a statement released Friday. “Having a say in our country’s Democratic process still does not exist for all.” Since a 2013 decision by the U.S. Supreme Court invalidated the section of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 that required federal approval of voting law changes in states with a history of racial discrimination, members of Congress and voting rights activists have pushed for restoration of the law. They did so as some Republican-led states passed laws requiring government-issued IDs and other forms of identification at polling places.

North Carolina: Advocates warn North Carolina on missing DMV voter registrations | Charlotte Post

Voting rights activists are threatening to sue North Carolina for failing to adhere to federal registration law. Attorneys for Action NC, Democracy North Carolina, the North Carolina A. Philip Randolph Institute, and North Carolina residents forwarded a pre-litigation notice letter on Monday to State Board of Elections Executive Director Kim Strach, N.C. Secretary of Transportation Tony Tata and Commissioner of Motor Vehicles Kelly Thomas alleging that the state Department of Motor Vehicles isn’t meeting voter registration obligations set by the National Voter Registration Act of 1993. The legislation, commonly known as the “Motor Voter Law,” requires voter registration services whenever a resident applies for, renews, or changes their address on a driver’s license or state-issued identification card. DMVs are then required to transmit the information to the appropriate election official within 10 days, or five days if the change of information is within five days of the close of registration.

National: Motor voter problems mean delays at polls | USA Today

When county clerks in New Mexico tried to figure out why voter registrations had slowed to a trickle this spring despite an upcoming primary, they made a surprising discovery: The culprit was a new online voter registration system at motor vehicle offices. Introduced with fanfare in January, the new system required drivers to go to a separate computer kiosk at the motor vehicle office to complete their voter registration. That proved to be too much hassle for many potential voters; it also violated the federal “motor voter” law. New Mexico, which has gone back temporarily to using paper voter registration forms, was trying to improve its motor voter performance in response to a 2010 court order. In most states, no one knows how well motor vehicle agencies comply with the mandate to register voters because no one is really keeping track. But a growing consensus says they are failing. Poor implementation of the National Voter Registration Act, the 21-year-old law that requires motor vehicle offices to register voters, is emerging as a problem when almost every aspect of voting is coming under scrutiny, either because of controversial voter identification laws or long lines at the polls.

Idaho: House Committee Votes (Barely) to Take DMV Voter Registration Bill Out of Neutral | Boise Weekly

Boise Democratic Rep., and Idaho Secretary of State candidate, Holli High Woodings is pushing what she calls a DMV voter registration bill, which would allow registration to vote through the Department of Motor Vehicles. But even she admits that could be a challenge to get it through her House State Affairs Committee. “Tough crowd,” wrote Woodings on her Facebook page after presenting before the committee Feb. 18. The bill, as written, would allow, but not require, Idaho citizens to register to vote at the same time they register with the DMV.

Editorials: Voter ID backpedaling leads to umpteenth change | Philadelphia Inquirer

I have not tested this theory, but I bet officials at the Pennsylvania Department of State have never issued as many news releases touting as many substantive changes to any process as they have while attempting to explain, justify, and implement the voter ID law. It’s not enough that a cynical legislature forced bureaucrats to design, on the fly, an ID-issuing system guaranteed to frustrate and discriminate. Every time well-intentioned officials issue a fix, journalists and advocates unearth more evidence of what remains broken. And the clock ticks on, with Election Day only six weeks away.

Pennsylvania: Voter ID Law Leads to DMV Trips from ‘Hell’ | ABC News

Two government offices, three hour-long lines, two 78-mile trips, two week-long waiting periods, four forms of identity and two signed affidavits later, Pennsylvanians will be allowed to vote. Under the state’s new voter ID laws,, which require every voter to show a government-issued photo ID at the polls, that is the epic process thousands of native Pennsylvanians have to go through to get the ID required to cast their ballots in November. And they now have just 56 days to complete it before the election. “It was hell all told,” said Jan Klincewicz, who helped his 87-year-old mother, Jisele, through the process. “To have to go through that kind of rigmarole to exercise her right to vote I think is excessive.”