Voter registration at the DMV — a train wreck in the making

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A May 18 article by Paul Hughes in the Republican-American informs us that the state DMV intends to create a system whereby anyone who goes to get a driver’s license or renew one at a DMV office will automatically be registered as a state voter at the same time. The article also says that the state is responding to a Federal compliance issue and that the Motor Voter law encourages (but does not mandate) voter sign-up at DMV offices.

This proposed project seems to me to be a solution in search of a problem, with the final result being a train wreck at the end of the journey for the following reasons:

  1. It is presumptuous and wrong for the state to automatically register anyone who conducts business at a DMV office. For whatever reasons a person may have, some may not want to be registered to vote, and that is their choice.
  2. How will this better the current process of voter registration? Every town and municipality has a Registrar of Voters, and in the 44 years I have lived in this state I believe the process seems to work very smoothly. So why is the state trying to fix something that isn’t broken?
  3. The DMV just went through a $26 million upgrading of their computer system(s) and it was an utter failure. Waiting lines at DMV offices increased tremendously, and several months later the whole system crashed and all DMV offices were unable to conduct business for several days. That was an inexcusable failure of a $26 million system.
  4. Given the facts in No. 3 above, should we taxpayers have any confidence that the creation of a whole new system to process voter registrations, created from scratch and over an estimated two years, will fare any better? I think not.
  5. Since this state is looking at fiscal deficits for as far as the eye can see, what is the estimated cost to do this project and where will the money come from? Does any informed voter believe that the project will come in on time and under budget – and perform as expected? I do not.
  6. The new DMV computer system has been sending car registrations and other data to the wrong towns, leading to tax collection issues and other problems in those towns. If the DMV can’t get their vehicle data to the proper recipients, why should we expect that they will be able to do any better with voter registration information? That will only create havoc on election days for both voters and poll workers.
  7. Since the state currently has a budget hole as deep as the Grand Canyon, the governor has had layoff notices sent out to hundreds of state employees, adding more work to the current DMV staff with the problems they already face that are as yet unresolved, does not seem like a wise thing to do because they will have to hire more (unionized) employees to do the additional voter registration work. This will grow the state labor force instead of reducing it, as is the current objective.

Due to the abundance of reasons stated above, I feel that this project should be soundly rejected by our legislative representatives and by all voters. Perhaps this project is just a thinly disguised attempt to rehire state workers who are currently getting layoff notices. Is there anyone left working in the state capitol with a bit of common sense?

Craig Hoffman lives in Cheshire.

What do you think?

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