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California Voters Are Mysteriously Being Registered in Wrong Party

Voters in California are being registered with the wrong party and no one is quite sure who’s to blame.

According to the Sacramento Bee, the switch has happened to over 600 voters identified by the outlet so far. The problem appears to be indiscriminate—affecting Democrats and Republicans alike.

Voters queried by the publication say they’ve previously been registered with their respective and proper parties for as long as they’ve been voting but have recently come to find out they’ve been shuttled over to the designation of “No Party Preference,” (NPP) which would preclude them from voting in this year’s presidential primaries.

Janna Haynes is the public information officer for Sacramento County Voter Registration & Elections. She says her department has received “close to 200 calls from people saying they don’t think they were registered NPP.”

Haynes said that two-thirds of those complainants had recently visited the DMV-which, of course, means that one-third hadn’t recently had such vehicular business. Still, she implied that maybe the DMV had something to do with the apparent snafu.

“There does seem to be a correlation,” Haynes said. “We have experienced this kind of issue in the past, but there does seem to be an increase.”

In Shasta County, California, at least 100 individuals had their party preferences switched without their knowledge or doing—and one official there was a bit more forceful with their suggestion that maybe the DMV was somehow to blame.

“I had one voter come in who reported that the DMV staff was more helpful than they needed to be by interjecting and taking the mouse away from her at the computer terminal when she was trying to complete the voter registration piece,” said Shasta County Clerk and Registrar Cathy Darling Allen. “I wouldn’t discount the concerns about parties being stripped out at the DMV.”

An additional 300 voters, at least, had their party preferences switched in Santa Clara County as of December 3. The Bee also said the DMV might be to blame for those changed registrations as well.

The California DMV, however, pushed back against the somewhat implied blame game.

“The DMV is not aware of a computer glitch or system issue related to voter registration,” the department told the paper. “DMV worked in partnership with the Secretary of State’s office to implement improvements to the party preference portion of the registration process in January 2019.”

So, why has that agency been the subject of suggested scorn and innuendo? Because of prior problems along similar lines.

Last year, the DMV was criticized for a prompt which asked voters to pick a party or select “I do not wish to choose a political party.” Choosing that line would slot a voter into NPP status.

The problem with that prompt was that voters who didn’t even answer the question were assumed to have selected NPP. This resulted in a massive spike in such registrations—which the DMV later moved to correct.

Postcards were recently sent to some 200,000 individuals who might have been affected by that earlier issue. Still, that issue wouldn’t have accounted for people who had their registrations changed without recently visiting the DMV—deepening the mystery that’s got many Californians worried about their ability to exercise their right to vote on Super Tuesday.

[image via Bill Wechter/AFP/Getty Images]

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