DMV bureaucracy restricting voters
November 12, 2012
Many Californians believed they had registered to vote at the Department of Motor Vehicles only to find themselves ineligible to cast a ballot on or before Election Day. [California Watch]
Since its adoption in 1995, the federal “motor voter” law, which authorizes voter registration at the DMV, has led to the mishandling of many registration forms.
Those who wished to vote but learned they were ineligible may apply for provisional ballots and hope a judge approves of them. This year, Sonoma County voters filled out 25 applications for court orders to vote and about 60 applied in Santa Cruz County, prompting the county clerk to urge potential voters to avoid registering at the DMV.
“You don’t come to me to register your car, don’t go to DMV to register to vote,” Santa Cruz County Clerk Gail Pellerin told California Watch.
DMV spokesman Artemio Armenta said voters registering at the DMV must check a box on their driver’s license application and fill out a registration form on the second page.
“Sometimes people either don’t mark the box, or they don’t fill out the form,” Armenta said. “This has been the most common reason people do not get properly registered.”
Armenta added that if an applicant does not check the box, DMV technicians do not look for voter registration forms, even if they are filled out.
But, Pellerin says the DMV fails to process some applications that are filled out correctly.
“Have you ever been to the DMV?” Pellerin said. “Does it look really neat and clean and organized? Would you trust leaving a piece of paper there that it’s going to find its way to me?”
Sacramento County Registrar Jill Lavine likewise says the DMV improperly handles voter registration forms.
“There’s so many gaps in the whole thing,” LaVine said.
Would-be voters who apply for court order ballots gain approval from a judge easier in some areas than others.
Pellerin said that potential voters who merely swear under penalty of perjury that they tried to register usually receive approval from a judge in Santa Cruz County. But, LaVine said some judges deny the petitions if would-be voters do not provide proof, like a receipt from the DMV.