DMV Must Get Out of the Business of Registering Voters

Registering Voters is Responsibility of Secretary of State
Wednesday, October 17, 2018

Given the fiasco of botched voter registrations at the California Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV), Senator Jim Nielsen (R-Tehama) will introduce legislation to get the DMV out of the voter registration business so it can focus on issuing licenses and car registrations.

“Voter registration is the cornerstone of our democracy,” said Senator Nielsen (R-Tehama). “It must be done correctly by people who understand its importance to our republic.”

In recent months, the DMV has mishandled thousands of California voter registrations. The following are some news reports detailing its mistakes:

  • 100,000 registration errors, as reported by CalMatters.
  • 23,000 erroneous voter registrations transmitted, as reported in the Sacramento Bee.
  • Another 1,500 people wrongly registered to vote by the DMV, as reported by the Los Angeles Times.
  • The State’s top elections official unable to confirm whether or not non-citizens voted in the June primary, according to the Associated Press.

“These are not small mistakes that can be ignored; legislators must fix this egregious error,” Senator Nielsen continued. “Registering voters and handling sworn affidavits are not the proper functions of the DMV.”

DMV officials are struggling to perform their key responsibilities. Californians are waiting in hours-long lines to register vehicles or renew licenses. Some have spent an entire day waiting in line, often having to take vacation time or unpaid days off from their jobs simply to comply with California's laws.

Senator Nielsen added, “Reaching out to potential voters and registering them to vote is the job of California’s Secretary of State and local elections officials. Therefore, this responsibility must be returned to election experts.”