Voter Integrity

Questions on Compromised Motor Voter Program and Secretary Padilla’s Weak Response

Democracy works only with clean and honest elections. Every vote by United States and California citizens must count. Our Secretary of State is obligated to protect that right by doing everything in his power to oversee the voter registration process and prohibit those who are not citizens of our country and state from falsely registering to vote.

On September 5, 2018, the Los Angeles Times and other major news outlets informed Californians the motor voter law had compromised 23,000 voter registrations. There has been a lot of concern about how this could happen when I was personally assured by Secretary of State Alex Padilla that this kind of thing would never happen. After hearing about this breach, I drafted the following letter to Secretary Padilla asking specific questions as outlined in the media reports (PDF copy of Letter).

After weeks of delay (partially due to the unexpected death of the Secretary’s mother), I received the following responses after Election Day. The letters try to downplay concerns and mention damage control efforts, such as the Secretary’s September 10, 2018 letter to the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) Director Jean Shiomoto, in which he complains, “I remain deeply frustrated and disappointed” by DMV failures.

To see some of the inter-agency exchanges, please see the following letters:

Letter 1 – September 10, 2018, from Secretary Padilla to DMV Director Jean Shiomoto and Department of Technology (CDT) Chief Information Officer (CIO) and Director of CDT Amy Tong (PDF)

Subject: Acknowledges receiving the DMV/CDT letter of September 5, notifying him of the “administrative processing error” of the 23,000 voter records. Requests information on efforts to identify and correct the errors, and to prevent future occurrences.

Letter 2 – October 3, 2018, from DMV Director Jean Shiomoto and Director and CIO of CDT Amy Tong to Secretary Padilla (PDF)

Subject: Explains DMV and CDT safeguarding of the process and upgrading the 23,000 records, including sending letters to all the “customers.”

Letter 3 – October 8, 2018, from Secretary Padilla to DMV Director Jean Shiomoto and Director and CIO of CDT Amy Tong (PDF)

Subject: More Motor Voter errors. Requests a third-party audit of DMV and CDT technology.

Letter 4 – Oct. 8, 2018, from DMV Director Jean Shiomoto and Director and CIO of CDT Amy Tong to Secretary Padilla (PDF)

Subject: Explains that on September 26, “DMV implemented a scheduled IT upgrade replacing its driver’s license application system.”

Finally, on November 9, 2018, I received a response to my September 17 inquiry from Secretary Padilla. He explains some of the situation by listing DMV and CDT actions and tries to downplay the problems of voter fraud. On December 6, 2018, the Sacramento Bee authored a story regarding the motor voter problems and addressed the issues I raised when they found my letters in a public records request. They wrote a story asking why my letter was only partially answered and why more internal information on the problems has not been released. (PDF copy of Letter)

Rather than redirect blame to the DMV, which is simply a processing venue for voter registration, I am concerned that more has not been done by the Secretary of State to protect our ballots, which is the core responsibility of his office per his constitutional authority.

I remain convinced that significant portions of our election systems could be compromised and may require a significant review to validate voter integrity. The Secretary has not taken adequate measures to deal with this problem.

I look forward to honest inquiry by my legislative colleagues in the Senate and the Assembly and call on our state leaders to do more towards securing our sacred voting process.


Related Stories

“Deleted texts and ‘show stopper defects’: California tech official raced to launch Motor Voter”, Bryan Anderson, Sacramento Bee, May 8, 2019

The California government technology officials who developed an automatic voter registration program for the Department of Motor Vehicles last year raced to the finish line even though they acknowledged they should have slowed down.

In April 2018, the state delayed the launch of its Motor Voter program by one week because of technical errors, inadequate testing and infrastructure concerns, according to records obtained by The Sacramento Bee.