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DMV’s Latest ‘Unanticipated’ Cost Overrun for the Much Anticipated Voter Registration Act Compliance

Why can’t the DMV meet statutory deadlines without another $2.2 million on top of the $162 million, on top of its $1.2 billion budget?

By Katy Grimes, November 26, 2019 12:35 pm

The historically deficient California Department of Motor Vehicles has encountered yet another stumbling block on its way to compliance with the 1993 National Voter Registration Act. On behalf of the DMV, the state Finance Director sent a letter last week to the Joint Legislative Budget Committee requesting and authorizing another $2.2 million to “help meet the deadlines.”

The DMV says it has had to “redirect staff away from its baseline vehicle registration and driver licensing work, causing the average time to process vehicle registration transactions at DMV headquarters to increase from 9 days to 16 days, and the average time to process driver license transactions from 5 days to 14 days.”

In May, the DMV requested an additional $162 million, on top of its existing $1.2 billion budget. The request followed Gov. Newsom’s January budget proposal boosting DMV funding by another $40 million. All together, he now is proposing $208 million in new funding over two years for the department.

And here in November, the DMV is back at the well, asking for more money.

In January we learned that the DMV and county voter registrars told the California Secretary of State in 2018 that 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.

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

Californians in need of the Real ID endured 4, 6, and even 8+ hour waits following the implementation of the DMV’s Real ID program.

“The Governor’s DMV strike team struck out!” according to Assemblyman Jim Patterson.

Following his inauguration, California Governor Gavin Newsom said he was ready to take on the DMV, appearing to have very little patience for DMV excuse-making. But by July, it was apparent “Governor Newsom dressed up the old failing DMV in new clothes and tried to convince us it was new,” Assemblyman Jim Patterson (R-Fresno) said. “The Governor’s DMV strike team struck out!”


Gov. Newsom’s strike team provided a  report which Newsom said “outlines significant progress that has already been made at the DMV.” First on the list was, “Overall wait times for DMV customers have decreased by 58 minutes from August 2018 to May 2019 in the DMV’s largest offices.”

There was the 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,

September 2018, the DMV sent out 23,000 “erroneous” voter registrations they blamed on “technical errors.” California Secretary of State Alex Padilla proclaimed himself  “extremely disappointed and deeply frustrated,” and refused to cooperate with federal probes of voter fraud.

“We have completed our review of the proposal and concur with the request,” Director of Finance Keely Bosler wrote in the letter. “The requested funds will allow the DMV to continue to meet the five and ten day statutory time frames using an appropriate fund source and without reducing staff.”

Inquiring Californians want to know, with more than 9,000 DMV employees, why can’t the agency meet the statutory deadlines without another $2.2 million on top of the additional $162 million, on top of its existing $1.2 billion budget?

11.22.19 Notification of Receipt and Approval of an Unanticipated Cost Funding Request from the DMV-CC

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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