Hundreds nearly kept off voter roles after registering at DMV

Elections staff caught technical glitch after WBTV questions

RALEIGH, NC (WBTV) - Nearly 400 people who registered to vote or attempted to change their voter registration at the DMV were nearly kept off the poll books due to a technical glitch.

The problem was caught by officials at the North Carolina State Board of Elections after WBTV raised questions about multiple reports of people who said they registered to vote at the DMV but who did not appear on the state’s voter database.

As a result of the station’s questions, elections staff determine a technical glitch kept data for hundreds of would-be voters from being transmitted to county boards of elections. The problem was caught days before the 2018 mid-term election.

Specifically, the NCSBE said it found records of 389 people who submitted applications over the summer where the data was not received by the county boards of elections for processing.

“In late July, because of a lawsuit settlement, the process through which the DMV transfers registration data to the State Board was modified and improved. Most registrations in question came during a roughly month-long span while the system was undergoing those changes,” NCSBE spokesman Pat Gannon said. “We do not know exactly why those records weren’t successfully transferred at that time. As noted above, they have now been sent to the counties for processing.”

The problem impacted people who registered to vote or who updated their voter registration at DMV offices across the state, including Mecklenburg, Cabarrus and Rowan Counties, among others.

Separately, information for 109 people who attempted to register to vote in Columbus County was not uploaded to the county board of elections’ server there due to a computer glitch two days before Hurricane Florence hit.

Damage from Florence kept Columbus County elections officials from accessing their building and computer files for days, NCSBE staff said.

Gannon, the NCSBE spokesman, said the names of all 389 voters who had registered to vote but whose information was not uploaded to the voter database had been forwarded to county boards of elections this week.

“This week, State Board staff sent the applications to the relevant county boards of elections and directed them to process them immediately if the individuals hadn’t already registered to vote in another fashion. All of these individuals will be able to vote in this election,” Gannon said.

Gannon said that 134 of the 389 voters had already been entered into the system as of Thursday morning, either because their county board of elections already added their information or because they registered a second time when they tried to vote during early voting, where people who are not registered to vote can do so on-site.

On Election Day, people who believe they are registered to vote but who do not appear on the voter rolls will be allowed to cast a provision ballot. For those that registered at the DMV but who do not appear, Gannon said an audit conducted by elections staff after the vote would allow their provisional ballot to be included in the official vote tally.

In the meantime, NCSBE staff is working to find a permanent fix for the problem that kept voters’ names out of the database in the first place.

“Until a permanent fix is made, State Board staff will routinely check to ensure all registration applications transfer successfully to the counties,” Gannon said.

Voters can check their registration on the NCSBE website to ensure they are properly registered.

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