A voter registration drive by a national nonprofit has erroneously notified scores of voters throughout Southern California that they are not registered. That’s causing “absolutely unnecessary voter confusion,” according to Orange County Registrar of Voters Neal Kelley, whose office has received dozens of calls from voters who received letters from the group and wanted to verify that they were registered. Officials in Los Angeles and San Bernardino counties also reported a recent rash of calls from puzzled voters, as the group has launched the latest phase of a mailing that has reached more than 4 million California households this year. “Whether by intent or by accident, it is clear that the organization that sent out these mailings used bad data and failed to compare that data with the existing voter file,” said Dean Logan, the Los Angeles County Registrar of Voters.
The group behind the mailing, the non-profit Voter Participation Center, has made headlines before. In 2008, the non-profit organized automated phone calls in North Carolina to African Americans that confused some registered voters about their status. And in 2012 the organization was criticized for mailings to ineligible voters, including sending a voter registration form to a dog in Virginia named Mozart.
Supporters of the group note there has been no indication it intended to suppress turnout or register ineligible voters.
After the 2012 incident, Virginia state Rep. Alonzo Lopez defended the group in a Richmond Times-Dispatch op-ed piece. “Any large-scale effort to reach millions of Americans is guaranteed to include some clerical errors and inaccuracies.” Lopez went on to praise the group for its efforts to register portions of the population that have low voter-participation rates.