Voting Rights Groups Reach Agreement on Next Steps for Review and Accountability for Processing of Voter Registrations at DMV


SACRAMENTO —Voting rights groups, the California Secretary of State, and the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) have filed a joint request for a stipulated federal court order outlining several steps the Secretary and DMV will take to correct errors related to the delayed transmission of voter registrations submitted to DMV, and to prevent such errors in the future.

The League of Women Voters of California, California Common Cause, ACCE Institute, and UnidosUS – plaintiffs who had previously settled claims against DMV and the Secretary regarding the state’s failure to offer federally mandated voter registration opportunities to millions of Californians under the National Voter Registration Act (NVRA) – learned in early December that voter registration applications submitted to the DMV are not being consistently transmitted to the Secretary within the time period specified by federal law and the terms of the parties’ January 2018 settlement agreement. The delayed transmissions resulted in the failure to process hundreds of timely new voter registration applications and cross-county address updates before certification of the November 6, 2018, general election, as well as thousands of voter registration updates for voters who may have moved within their county or wanted to become permanent vote-by-mail voters.

The stipulated order filed by the parties today will require the Secretary to continue its full review of the cause and impact of the delayed transmissions and issue a public report, to follow up with voters impacted by the delay, and to ensure any votes wrongfully rejected due to the failure to timely process registration information are counted. In addition, DMV and the Secretary will be required to formalize and implement corrective measures to ensure timely transmission of voter registration information from DMV to the Secretary, to implement formal training procedures in consultation with the voting rights groups, and to appoint management level NVRA coordinators responsible for overseeing the agencies’ compliance with the NVRA. 

“As other states suppress votes, California is taking steps to serve as an example of election transparency and integrity,” said Melissa Breach, Executive Director of the League of Women Voters of California. “The agreement being filed today by the parties establishes concrete steps that California will take to investigate and improve the DMV voter registration system. We look forward to working with DMV and Secretary Padilla to ensure that California fulfills its legal obligation to provide Californians accessible and effective voter registration services at the DMV.”

The voting rights groups are represented by the ACLU Foundation of Northern California, the ACLU Voting Rights Project, Demos, and the law firm of Morrison & Foerster.

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