A new California policy that will automatically register to vote adults who obtain or renew a drivers license is causing concern among activists who fear the simplified process will make it easier for illegal immigrants to cast ballots.
However, a spokeswoman for the California Department of Motor Vehicles cleared up an inaccuracy in WND’s initial report, explaining that the licenses California issues to illegal immigrants are distinguished from regular licenses and are not eligible for the new voter-registration system.
WND reported the new automatic-registration policy, to be enacted in April, was the result of a lawsuit by the League of Women Voters and three other groups regarding implementation of the California Motor Voter Act. The complaint against the state’s Department of Motor Vehicles and Secretary of State’s Office in May 2017 claimed the state burdens would-be voters by making them fill out the same information on two separate forms to register to vote.
The new statute requires the DMV to electronically forward records for all eligible applicants for driver’s licenses to the Secretary of State’s Office for registration unless the applicants opt out.
Jessica Gonzalez, assistant deputy director of public affairs for California’s DMV, explained to WND that her department does not issue regular driver’s licenses to anyone who cannot provide proof of citizenship through a birth certificate or passport and a Social Security number, which must be electronically verified.
California passed a law in 2013 that allows illegal immigrants to obtain a limited-use driver’s license. But anyone who obtains or renews a so-called AB 60 license, named after the law, will not be registered to vote through the new policy.
Gonzalez said the portion of the electronic license form pertaining to voter registration will be grayed out, so no voter application will be sent to the Secretary of State’s Office.
In addition, upon receiving an application, the Secretary of State’s Office must verify the applicant’s citizenship, according to the Los Angeles Times. WND asked the chief spokesman for the Secretary of State’s Office, Jesse Melgar, to confirm that policy, but he did not reply before this article was published.
To date, California has issued the special AB60 licenses to an estimated 1 million illegal aliens.
‘A process that can be manipulated’
Reacting to the new voter-registration policy, a citizen’s group is calling on the DMV to allow an unbiased third party to monitor the department’s voter-registration process.
Ruth Weiss, vice president of the Election Integrity Project of California, insisted in a Fox News Channel interview that oversight is necessary.
She acknowledged that the concerns about fraud “may be overblown, for all we know.”
“But based on what we have observed in terms of the state’s reliability in effectively following other laws, we have reason to doubt on this one,” she said.
Asked to react to Weiss, Gonzalez told WND she was unaware of any non-compliance by the DMV.
“What other laws are we not following?” she asked.
However, the state and some of its largest cities have been leaders in the movement to defy immigration laws, with California becoming the first “sanctuary state” on Jan. 1 through a law barring police from asking people about their immigration status or participating in federal immigration-enforcement activities in most cases.
Also, the city of San Francisco passed a proposition in November that will allow non-citizens, including people in the country illegally, who have children in the city’s school district to vote in local school-board elections, NPR reported.
Catherine Engelbrecht, founder of the Texas-based voter-integrity group True the Vote, told FoxNews.com the new automatic voter-registration process is “setting the state up for a disaster,” arguing it’s “a process that can be manipulated.”
Engelbrecht’s group unsuccessfully pressed California Gov. Jerry Brown to veto the Motor Voter Act.
Former California State Assemblyman Tim Donnelly, a former vice chairman of the Committee on Elections, told FoxNews.com the state generally does a poor job of scrutinizing voter registration.
He believes the DMV is sincere in doing its job, but he noted that during the debate over the AB 60 licenses, supporters of the bill gave assurances the special licenses wouldn’t be used for federal purposes.
But they are being used to board airline flights, Donnelly said.
A retired special agent for ICE told Fox News that people are routinely caught crossing the border with fake voter-registration cards.
Fox News reporter Trace Gallagher commented: “So, if there is a way to illegally register to vote, someone is bound to exploit it.”