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DMV Excuse-Making is Over Now

State Motor-Voter audit coming

By Katy Grimes, February 8, 2019 1:16 am

Serious problems at the California Department of Motor Vehicles appear endless. In January we learned that DMV and county voter registrars told the California Secretary of State last year the motor Voter program was not ready. Motor Voter automatically registers voters when they renew or obtain a drivers license. The DMV and registrars asked Secretary of State Alex Padilla to hold off on the roll-out.

Assemblyman Jim Patterson

“California moved forward anyway,” the Sacramento Bee reported.

The President of the California Association of Clerks and Election Officials, and the registrar for Los Angeles County both asked Padilla to hold off. The new system had not been properly checked, according to the voter registrars. They had cause for concern, said Assemblyman Jim Patterson (R-Fresno).

The latest debacle is a massive DMV computer programming error, which resulted in thousands of customers who renewed their licenses as soon as they received a notice in the mail, actually received no license at all, Patterson said in an interview Thursday.

According to the DMV, customers impacted had already paid their driver’s license renewal fees online or by mail between November 2018 and January 2019, their checks were cashed, yet they never received their license. Some customers, after being accused of forging DMV receipts, even made duplicate payments hoping to get their license, Patterson said.

Assemblyman Patterson said DMV officials say license renewal notices are now mailed out 120 to 150 days in advance of the expiration date to give customers time to make appointments, but their computer system only accepted payments up to 115 days before the due date. According to the DMV, payments were accepted, but licenses were never mailed creating months of frustration for thousands of drivers.

“This is yet another embarrassment for the DMV and another example of what a failed state bureaucracy looks like. The impact of the DMV’s continued technology and management failures don’t surprise me anymore,” Patterson said. “Thousands of people were touched by this failure. These are paying customers, and they’re not being treated like it. We must overhaul this department starting at the top if we ever expect to see anything change.”

The computer program has since been updated. The exact number of drivers impacted is unknown but is like in the tens of thousands. The DMV is going through their system manually to identify and contact customers who were impacted.

Patterson said Gov. Gavin Newsom is taking an entirely different approach that is predecessor Gov. Jerry Brown, who ignored the DMV problems for a long time. “Gov. Newsom is using very strong language,” Newsom said. “He appears to have very little patience for DMV excuse-making.”

Patterson said he sent Gov. Newsom three suggestions with respect to the “strike team” Newsom created to deal with the DMV issues:

  1. Technology: Patterson again said the DMV technology needs to be “Amazon-like” in its customer service focus, and attention to quickly fixing problems.
  2. The culture of customer service, or lack thereof
  3. Decentralization: Patterson said DMV services need to be at many locations, the way AAA offers at its locations.

Patterson said he recently went to AAA to renew his boat registration, and because the DMV computers were down, AAA was also down.

Motor Voter Program is a Catastrophe

The DMV’s Motor Voter program has had serious and concerning problems since its rollout in April 2018, Patterson said. “Motor Voter has relied on absolutely decrepit technology.” Patterson and Assemblyman Rudy Salas (D-Bakersfield) have requested an official audit of the DMV Motor Voter program by State Auditor Elaine Howle. Patterson hopes the audit moves forward immediately given the gravity of problems within the DMV.

“The Department has admitted mishandling voter registration information for 23,000 drivers and double-registering as many as 77,000 others,” Patterson said in a statement Thursday. “In addition to this, as many as 1,500 ineligible voters were registered by the DMV – including an unknown number of non-citizens. Over 500 Californians may not have been able to vote in this past election because the DMV did not send their information to the Secretary of State’s office in time.”

Sen. John Moorlach

Sen. John Moorlach recently weighed in on the DMV issues on his website, John Moorlach’s Postings. Moorlach explained how this has happened:

“The Democrats have been dominating California’s Capital for four decades. This is not enough. Consequently, in their efforts to pile on in the 2018 elections, they rushed motor voter registrations at the Department of Motor Vehicles to juice up their numbers.”

“It was done, even after the implementation was obviously premature. But, the motives are clearly spelled out in The Sacramento Bee and Napa Valley Register piece below.”

“’The fact that [registering voters at the DMV] helps us politically . . .’ is an amazingly honest and forthright admission on the true motivations of this program.”

“So, what if a few noncitizens get caught up in this initiative’s net? And when it is clear that the project was mismanaged, of course you blame another department and its department head. Brilliant. Better yet, don’t respond to reporter calls when they’re doing what they are supposed to do, investigative journalism.”

“And the Democrats in D.C. are focused on the alleged Russian interference in the national elections of 2016? It looks like they should clean up their very own messy problems here in Sacramento.”

“I don’t care about politics or credit,” Patterson said. “The people of California are suffering with the DMV and its 1980’s technology. And DMV customers are actually annoyances to DMV employees.”

Patterson added: “The excuse-making is over now.”

Katy Grimes

Katy Grimes, the Editor of the California Globe, is a long-time Investigative Journalist covering the California State Capitol, and the co-author of "California's War Against Donald Trump: Who Wins? Who Loses?"
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4 thoughts on “DMV Excuse-Making is Over Now

  1. What is interesting is that the continued push for completing Motor Voter prior to the election came from the Secretary of State’s Office as well as the previous iteration of “Strike Team” that was working at DMV.

  2. Very grateful to Jim Patterson for his long-time and very patient efforts on this vital matter.
    AUDIT AUDIT AUDIT the DMV ASAP!

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