California’s “Revolving Door” of Voter Registration


Hundreds of thousands of registered voters have cycled off and back on the state’s voter list for simple updates. How many remain off the list going into the 2020 elections?

Santa Clarita, Calif. – An in-depth review of VoteCal, California’s statewide voter registration database, shows that more than 200,000 registered voters were removed from the voter list and then added back to subsequent lists between 2018 and 2019, mostly due to simple updates they did online or via the DMV.

Election Integrity Project® California (EIPCa) conducted the research by comparing the VoteCal registration lists of February 2018, October 2018, February 2019 and July 2019. Voters who were on one list would not appear in a subsequent list but would reappear on a later list with simple changes to their records, such as name corrections or party changes. It is unclear why these voters were temporarily removed instead of remaining on the list until updated.

Most concerning is that many may have cycled off the list and remain off without their knowledge. One EIPCa volunteer found his registration was missing after he had updated it online. He contacted his county Registrar of Voters, who told him his registration was pending because he had failed to “check the box” allowing his driver license signature to be used for his voter registration. He has since resolved the problem, but in the six months he was off the voter list, he received no notice of his “pending” status or required corrective action to be taken.

EIPCa informed California Secretary of State Alex Padilla of this serious finding in September 2019 and again in October 2019 but has received no response to date. And the problem appears to be worsening. About 40,000 registrants cycled off in October 2018 and then returned. About 160,000 voters cycled off in February 2019 and then returned. Over 50% are associated with DMV registration and another 25% with the online registration system. EIPCa has heard several recent reliable reports of voters–including a previous candidate for Secretary of State–who checked their registrations and found their respective names missing from the VoteCal state voter list or their county list.

The 2020 elections will be especially close in California’s “swing” congressional districts (CDs). CD 21, in the Central Valley, has the lowest voter registration of all California’s CDs; the 2018 margin of victory was a mere 862 votes. Yet CD21 had 14,014 voters cycle off and then back on its list, the highest of all the swing CDs. The possibility that voters remain off the list, have received no notice and will be unable to vote because their registrations are “pending” needs to be resolved immediately in CD21 and throughout the state.

“The DMV registration system continues to present problems for voters,” said EIPCa President Linda Paine. “We documented hundreds of voters in 2018 whose registrations were changed by the DMV from poll voters to mail voters without consent, unauthorized changes to voters’ political parties and, now, voter registrations removed while being updated. It’s important that all voters check their registrations to make sure they are listed and the information is accurate, especially if they have transacted with California’s DMV or online registration systems in the past two years.”

[To check your registration, visit your county registrar’s website or use voterstatus.sos.ca.gov. If you find a discrepancy, contact your county’s Registrar of Voters to correct it.]

EIPCa is a non-partisan, non-profit, volunteer organization. For over 9 years it has researched and observed California elections to provide citizen oversight to ensure that the state and its counties are complying with laws that protect the integrity of elections. For a full list of counties, go to: eip–ca.com.

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