Court allows voters at polls

October 08, 2003 11:00 pm

By AMY LINDBLOM

For 13 Tuolumne County residents who found their names left off the list of registered voters, it took a bit longer to vote in Tuesday's recall election.

That's because they had to get a court order.

All 13 had either registered or re-registered to vote through the state Department of Motor Vehicles. But because DMV officials are historically slow in notifying county elections office in time of newly registered voters, their names were not on precinct lists, said Tuolumne County Counsel Gregory Oliver.

"We've had this problem in past elections, so we had something in place to take care of it ahead of time," Oliver said.

DMV spokesman Bill Branch said that after every election there are complaints that people who registered to vote were not able to cast their ballots on election day.

"I can't tell you that DMV has never made a mistake," said Branch, who is based in Sacramento. "I can tell you that in the past, when DMV investigates these situations, we find that most people filled out the form improperly."

Each voter turned away at a local precinct was told to go to the elections office on North Washington Street in Sonora and fill out a new registration card.

Oliver's office had a court order ready. Voters just had to sign, swearing they had registered before the Sept. 22 cutoff date. Oliver's staff delivered the sworn orders to Tuolumne County Superior Court Judge Eric DuTemple for his signature. All filing fees were waived.

The signed order was returned to the elections office, two blocks from the courthouse. In the meantime, the voters cast their ballots — the paperwork was taken care of afterward so that they weren't held up any longer, Oliver said.

Branch said DMV made an "intensive effort" to get all voter registration forms to each respective county.

He said all DMV voter applicants are handed a receipt when they register.