State In The Process Of Fixing Error That Caused Ineligible Voters To Be Registered
Problems with the implementation of Vermont’s automatic voter registration system led to some Vermont residents who are not eligible to vote being added to the state’s voter rolls, officials say, adding that no ineligible voters had the chance to fraudulently vote in any elections.
Secretary of State Jim Condos said social media posts about the issue went viral nationally. One Facebook user said her husband, a foreign citizen, was mistakenly registered. It’s a crime for a foreign citizen to try to vote in federal elections, and non-citizens with legal residency can be deported for attempting to vote.
Vermont's automatic voter registration program was created by a 2016 law, and officially started on January 2. A release from Condos’ office said that the Department of Motor Vehicles shared more data than it was supposed to with elections officials during the first 18 days of the program, resulting in some ineligible residents being registered to vote.
Condos said officials at the DMV notified the secretary of state’s office, which handles Vermont’s elections, on January 20.
“We immediately pulled the plug and froze the system so that it would not accept any more, and then at the same time we canceled any pending registrations until we could clear this up,” Condos said in an interview Friday.
Condos said the issue was only occurring for 18 days, and elections staff are now reviewing all of the records so that all eligible voters are automatically registered, but ineligible voters stay out of the state’s system.
As a result, Condos said, state officials should be able to resolve the issue without any of the affected residents taking action. He also said that because there aren't any elections going on, there's no chance that anyone who was wrongly entered into the state's system got a chance to vote illegally.
Condos said Vermont residents shouldn’t worry about being deported because of the mistake.
“There is protection built into the law to protect people who accidentally are registered, and in this case it certainly was not the fault of anyone who ended up being registered that shouldn’t have been,” he said. “This was the fault of the bad information that we had received from DMV.”
Condos said DMV officials owned up to the mistake and have been working hard since the problem was found to correct it.