Why the DMV Is Now the Prime Exhibit on California “Corruptour”

Back in 2017, alert Mexicans launched a “Corruptor” sight-seeing service with 27 stops to see instances of waste, fraud, and abuse–including a dysfunctional government subway line costing more than $1 billion. Mexico thus sets a fine example for California, whose Corruptour could include the new span of the Bay Bridge, ten years late and $5 billion over budget, and the $3 billion California Institute for Regenerative Medicine (CIRM), which handed out more than 90 percent of its grants to organizations represented on its governing board while producing none of the promised cures and therapies.

The California Corruptour would have to cover the state Coastal Commission, an unelected body of regulatory zealots that threatens property rights, and whose commissioner Mark Nathanson served prison time for bribery charges. With all that and more, the first stop on the California Corruptour should be the state Department of Motor Vehicles, with a budget of more than $1 billion. 

This “cartoonish poster child for bureaucratic incompetence,” won the Independent Institute’s seventh California Golden Fleece® Award, an easy choice with the long lines, increasing wait times, and overpaid employees sleeping on the job. As Californians know, the DMV does a poor job at its appointed tasks but politicians also tapped the state agency to register voters. When they get a driver’s license, the DMV “motor voter” program automatically registers to vote even those ineligible to do so, adding one million “new” voters by 2018. How many of the ineligible actually voted in 2016 and 2018 remained a mystery because Secretary of State Alex Padilla won’t say and refuses to comply with federal probes of voter fraud. 

With DMV incompetence on full display, politicians kept the agency off-limits to State Auditor Elaine Howle, known for independence, efficiency, and accuracy. Instead, politicians deployed the state Department of Finance, part of the governor’s office, and the results are now in.

As the Sacramento Bee reported, the DMV motor voter program “erroneously added” only sixCalifornia residents” to voter rolls last year. According to Padilla, “none of the people were undocumented immigrants applying for AB 60 licenses,” none was guilty of “fraudulently voting or attempting to vote.” And DMV Communications Deputy Director Anita Gore is on record that “conditions that led to the problems have been addressed.” So move along people, nothing to see here. 

If Californians believe that, this writer has a bridge to sell them. Four Pinocchios for Gore and Padilla, and the first stop on the California Corruptour for the Department of Motor Vehicles. 


K. Lloyd Billingsley is a Policy Fellow at the Independent Institute and a columnist at American Greatness.
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