Report: California Ignored Warnings, Rushed ‘Motor Voter’ Ahead of 2018 Midterm Elections

Alex Padilla (Justin Sullivan / Getty)
Justin Sullivan / Getty

A new investigative report by the Sacramento Bee has found that California Secretary of State Alex Padilla (D) rushed the controversial “Motor Voter” registration program before the 2018 midterm elections, ignoring advice from technical experts who warned that the system was not ready.

To date, the Bee reports, 105,000 registration errors have been found, against claims by the state to have signed up 800,000 new voters since last April’s launch.

Those errors may have cost Republicans one congressional seat out of the seven in California that flipped to Democrats during the midterm elections, according to an analysis by McClatchy — namely, former Rep. David Valadao’s 21st district seat, which was won (eventually, after late ballots were counted) by Democrat T.J. Cox.

Republicans have also blamed “ballot harvesting,” which allows third parties to turn in mail-in ballots for other people, for their losses. Democrats want to make the practice nationwide, arguing it improves ballot access.

The Bee notes that the registration errors by Motor Voter, run by the state’s Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV), included at least one non-citizen being registered: “Some customers were registered with the wrong party. Others who wished to opt out of the program were nevertheless signed up. At least one non-citizen was added to the voter rolls, and the Secretary of State’s Office is continuing to investigate whether more non-citizens were included.”
The DMV’s dysfunction — not just on Motor Voter — became so notorious that it was a campaign issue in the 2018 election. Republican businessman John Cox, who challenged Gavin Newsom for governor, highlighted the DMV’s failures, and then-Gov. Jerry Brown ordered the DMW to be audited last September. But Motor Voter continued.

That decision came down to Padilla, who later blamed the DMV for Motor Voter’s woes. But experts say the fault was his: he was warned of the technical difficulties and pressed ahead anyway, with an important election in sight.

Joel B. Pollak is Senior Editor-at-Large at Breitbart News. He is a winner of the 2018 Robert Novak Journalism Alumni Fellowship. He is also the co-author of How Trump Won: The Inside Story of a Revolution, which is available from Regnery. Follow him on Twitter at @joelpollak.

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