All Pat News wanted was to get a Real ID. Instead, she almost lost her ability to vote for president and Congress in the March 3rd primary election.
She had to go online to get things fixed, but she did and now awaits her ballot. Yet this ordeal made her wonder if there was some sort of conspiracy, not to mention her wondering if this has happened to others, and what if those others can’t get online to make the necessary fixes?
“What if I’m older? What if I’m disabled? What if I wasn’t able to go online?” said News, 65. “There’s no way my dad could correct this. My mom could not correct this. …Why is this happening?”
“This” is a confluence of law, bureaucracy and human error that caused News to go through what she did.
It starts with Title II of the Real ID Act of 2005, which sets requirements for improving security on state licenses. As of October 1st, the Transportation Security Administration will require Real ID-compliant driver’s licenses to fly in the U.S. or enter federal buildings (passports also will continue to be accepted).
News signed up through the Department of Motor Vehicles office in Santa Paula. Later, she received a letter from the Los Angeles County Registrar-Recorder’s office informing her that she her political-party affiliation changed from Republican to “No Party Preference,” or NPP, meaning she could not vote for president or Congressperson, which she wanted to do.
She talked to friends and patients at her Lyons Avenue health care clinic and found out others have had the same thing happen. Curiously to her, it only happened to registered Republicans; Democrats were unaffected. Knowing the state leans heavily Democratic, News began to suspect something fishy.
“The DMV is doing suspicious activity,” she concluded.
Problems with the DMV registering people to vote are widely known. In October 2018, the Gazette ran a story that mentioned the DMV accidentally registered 1,500 non-citizens; only citizens may vote. The secretary of state canceled those registrations but couldn’t say how many had voted in the primary.
The problems with getting a Real ID also are known. In November, the Department of Homeland Security informed the DMV that it needed applicants to provide two documents proving residency instead of one. The Sacramento Bee reported this affected 3.4 million people who already had received their Real IDs. They had to mail a copy of a second document.
But actually, it’s the Republican Party that requires registration to vote in its primaries. The Secretary of State’s website shows that the Democratic, Libertarian and American Independent parties are allowing NPP voters to vote in their primaries if they ask for the appropriate ballot.
As for why News’ designation changed, County Registrar-Recorder/County Clerk Public Information officer Mike Sanchez said he has come across this before and has a theory: News ignored a question about stating her political party preference.
“If you don’t indicate, you automatically default to No Party Preference,” he said. “There are efforts to clean this up.”
Sanchez also said he looked at her past registrations and found that in 2006, she changed from Republican to “AG,” which is not a recognized party, so she would default to NPP.
News insists she answered the question and stated her preference: Republican. She also said she has no idea what AG is because she’s always registered Republican.
In the meantime, she will receive her Republican primary ballot, Sanchez confirmed.
News remains unsure of how this happened. She is, however, sure of one thing: “This does not feel good.”