Audit Reveals Mass Errors in California’s Motor Voter Program

Published On: August 13, 2019

California’s automated “motor voter” program launched in April 2018, aiming to streamline voter registration via the use of DMV kiosks. However, in the 16 months since its implementation, the program has created more inconvenience than it originally set out to eliminate, according to an audit released to the public.

Per the audit, which was conducted over several months by accounting firm Ernst & Young and spanned 113 pages, the touch screen voter registration process, which has been tacked onto standard DMV transactions, produced 83,684 duplicate records. Adding to the confusion, another 171,145 DMV records from the program failed to state each voter’s political party affiliation.

Based on a series of interviews, Ernst & Young concluded in their report that the discrepancy could be attributed to poor communication between the DMV, secretary of state, and the Department of Technology. The auditors also spoke to DMV customers, whose dissatisfaction with the process stemmed from unclear on-screen instructions for voters who had already registered, compounded by DMV employees who were unequipped to clear any confusion.

When questioned in the audit, DMV employees stated that “there is inconsistency in lines of reporting and ownership of decision-making authority.”

Director of the California Department of Technology Amy Tong said in a written statement that the duplicate records were not errors, instead calling them “expected differences resulting from architectural differences,” the Los Angeles Times reported.

California GOP leaders have been far more critical. State Sen. Patricia Bates called for the DMV to suspend the program, while Senate Minority Leader Shannon Grove tweeted that the program was “another black mark” for the DMV.

Secretary of State Alex Padilla and newly-appointed DMV Director Steve Gordon have already begun to implement changes recommended by the audit, according to a written statement from Gordon.

The audit is posted here:  https://www.documentcloud.org/documents/6251287-Ernst-Young.html

The Department of Finance issued an audit in May located here: http://www.dof.ca.gov/Programs/OSAE/documents/WEB_Final_Report-California_Department_of_Motor_Vehicles_Performance_Audit.pdf

 

About the Author: Will Keys

Will Keys writes about technology issues for the GovReport. He is a graduate of the Reynolds School of Journalism at the University of Nevada, Reno. He can be reached at will at govreport.org