Problems plaguing early use of California statewide voter registry

There are reports of problems with early use of California’s new statewide voter registration system. According to one of these reports, in this morning’s Los Angeles Times, the problems may make it difficult or impossible for some voters to cast ballots in upcoming local elections, and perhaps even the upcoming statewide primary election in early June.

For example, the report this morning notes that there were 14,629 people in Los Angeles County alone whose registration attempts were rejected by the new statewide system, forcing the local officials in LA County to work to resolve all of those application problems. Forty-three percent of these rejections came from people trying to register between January 1 and March 15. Think how pressing this problem may become as we get closer and closer to the June primary, when tens of thousands of registration or re-registration applications can be received in large California counties in the days before the close of registration.

According to information provided by Los Angeles County these rejections are arising for a number of reasons:

  1. 4.7% were rejected because of database errors — interruptions in transmission, for example.
  2. 7% or more contained all of the necessary information but there were rejections due to a lack of a perfect match between the application materials and existing information the state has on the individual.

California is one of the few states that requires an exact matching of registration application materials with state databases, and this is apparently producing this rejection rate.

A representative of the Secretary of State was quoted in the report as stating that the new system has a 74% acceptance rate, which of course means there are a lot of rejected applications, which are then examined by the appropriate local county official as to why they were rejected. Again, when we get close to the June primary and this system is stressed, hopefully it will not pose an overwhelming burden on county election officials who will be swamped with other issues associated with both setting up a complicated and competitive primary election and who are working to implement other provisions of HAVA.