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1,500 noncitizens may have accidentally been registered to vote in California

Roughly 1,500 noncitizens may have been inadvertently registered to vote in the state. Also, 23,000 other voters had their party registration changed, or had some other error on their voter registration that was caused by the DMV. (Mario Tama/Getty Images)

California's Department of Motor Vehicles has admitted that as many as 1,500 people may have been accidentally registered to vote between April 23 and Sept. 25 of this year.

What happened?

In late August, Randall Marquis, a Canadian citizen legally residing in Newport Beach, California, with his American citizen wife, applied for a replacement driver's license. Shortly afterward, he received a notice in the mail that he was registered to vote, even though he wasn't a U.S. citizen. He decided to reach out to the Los Angeles Times and alert them to this error.

“When I saw that card, I just threw it out,” he told KXTV-TV in a phone interview. “I know I’m not going to vote. I’m not allowed to vote, it’s stupid that I should be registered to vote.”

But when the Los Angeles Times called the California DMV for a comment, the department made a startling discovery: Marquis was only one of roughly 1,500 noncitizens who had been added to the voter rolls. On top of this, 23,000 other voters had their party registration changed, or had some other error on their voter registration that was caused by the DMV.

The DMV notified California Secretary of State Alex Padilla about the issue. Padilla held a conference call on Monday with other Californian officials, and requested that an independent audit of the entire system take place. He told the head of the state's DMV and the director of its Department of Technology that he was “deeply frustrated and disappointed” and that he believed “[i]mmediate and transparent action is imperative.”

DMV Director Jean Shiomoto assured KXTV:

We have worked quickly with the Department of Technology to correct these errors and have also updated the programming and added additional safeguards to improve this process.

While absentee ballots may still go out to voters not registered, election officials said that the bar codes on these ballots would prevent them for being counted during the election even if noncitizens used them to vote.

What else?

In April, California began to allow illegal immigrants living in the state to obtain driver's licenses. When this policy was first announced in January, some news outlets speculated that this move would allow noncitizens holding driver's licenses to vote in that state, since anyone issued a driver's license is automatically registered to vote.

However, the fact-checking website Snopes was quick to point out that citizens had to prove they were eligible to vote before being automatically registered through the driver's license system.

Notably, although this recent incident happened in the same state beginning around the same time as these new driver's license guidelines took effect, state authorities have insisted that these voter registrations were a mistake and not part of a new policy.

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