Campaigns to encourage people to vote are hardly new. We’ve all seen the last-minute pushes to the polls, sometimes with nonsensical slogans that don’t exactly inspire confidence about informed voters.
But in the run-up to the 2018 midterm elections, California took those voter roundups to a new level.
The state rolled out a scheme to essentially turn the Department of Motor Vehicles into a one-stop voter registration clearinghouse, creating a giant headache in the process.
Now, observers are warning that the same problems which plagued the left-leaning state in 2018 could come up again in 2020 … only this time, the White House is at stake.
At the center of the problem is an automated voter registration system which was hailed by Democrats as the brave future.
Basically, California decided that computers would be used to auto-register voters based on their DMV records, with the goal of bringing many new voters to the polls.
Of course, registering to vote isn’t exactly difficult. It’s usually a single form that needs to be filled out one time, and you have to wonder if somebody who is confused by this straightforward process really ought to be choosing who runs the country.
But California jumped at the chance to streamline the process even more.
“The state has had a motor-voter system up and running for years, but a new law required the Department of Motor Vehicles to electronically transmit information on drivers who are eligible to vote and who visit the Golden State’s DMV offices to the state’s voter rolls, unless they opt out,” RealClearPolitics said.
To say it didn’t go well would be putting it mildly. Just a few months before the 2018 midterm election, foreign hackers were able to break into the system and wreak havoc.
Stunningly, that hack was pretty much covered up by California officials.
“On April 10, a California Department of Technology official detected that the new DMV system had been compromised by what appeared to be hackers in Croatia,” RealClearPolitics reported. “Among the concerns surfacing now is that state officials never publicly acknowledged the hacking until California media reported on it last month.”
A voter registration system being hacked by a foreign country is a pretty big deal, but the problems didn’t end there. The scheme was hindered by glitches, with many of them so bizarre that some people wondered if they were deliberate.
For example, the party preferences of some voters were switched without their consent, with Republicans being changed to Democrats or vice versa. And alarmingly, at least 1,500 immigrants who were not U.S. citizens became registered to vote, although the state insisted that this was fixed before impacting the midterm election.
Some of those problems can certainly be pinned on software bugs. But other aspects of the botched roll-out should have raised red flags well in advance.
“In the lead-up to the midterms, California also passed a law that allowed people to register to vote the same day of an election, making verifying their U.S. citizenship and California residency nearly impossible,” RealClearPoltics said.
In other cases, people who requested mail-in ballots never received them — not just a few people, but possibly hundreds of thousands. A skeptic might wonder if the state wanted to skew the election.
So what does this mean for the fast-approaching 2020 primary and general election? It doesn’t look good, at least according to some key observers. One of them is Election Integrity Project-California, a group dedicated to monitoring elections.
“The watchdog group, which sent its report to the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division and the Department of Homeland Security’s cybersecurity agency, is now stressing the need to fix the problems before the 2020 election,” RealClearPolitics reported. “The organization is also planning to sue the state over the dysfunctional rollout.”
EIPC is now calling on the state to take a step back and end the automatic voter registration system for the time being.
“The DMV fiasco should require the [automatic motor-voter] registration be put on hold until such a time that all the software glitches are fixed,” said Ellen Swensen, an analyst for EIPC.
“They didn’t test it properly and it was a disaster,” she added. “It should be taken off line right now until they can assure voters it’s fixed.”
If the state isn’t careful, a “disaster” could be exactly what happens again as the important 2020 election season heats up.
For all the talk from the left about valuing democracy and fairly giving people a voice, you’d think they would take the situation a bit more seriously.
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