Coding glitch led to nearly 7,000 not registered to vote

Of the total, the state identified 768 people in Snohomish County.

Herald staff and news services

OLYMPIA — The information of thousands of people who thought they were registered to vote when getting a new driver’s license after a name change did not make it to the voter rolls because of a software error that officials at the Department of Licensing say might have been an issue since 2006.

Officials at the state agency and Secretary of State Kim Wyman announced the error Tuesday, and said that they are working to ensure that nearly 7,000 people who didn’t already register through other means will receive ballots this week in time for special elections next week on levies and other ballot measures in most of the state’s 39 counties.

Of the total, the state identified 768 people in Snohomish County.

They are from all parts of the county including 198 in Everett, 106 in Lynnwood, 74 in Marysville, 53 in Arlington and 3 in Darrington, according to Garth Fell, the county’s elections and recording manager.

“We will be reviewing the records and registering and issuing ballots to voters over the next few days,” he said.

Licensing Director Pat Kohler said that an initial error detected in December was believed to be caused by human error, but that it wasn’t until late January that it was clear that a coding error meant that thousands of customers who changed their name and were assigned a new driver license number didn’t have their information transmitted to the secretary of state’s office.

Lori Augino, the director of elections for the secretary of state, said that once the problem was identified, they compared the DOL lists with the voter rolls. They found that since 2011, 25,000 people who attempted to register to vote through the DOL “motor voter” system did not have their names transmitted. Of those, 6,969 were ultimately never registered. Augino said that the others were already registered under their previous name or registered through other means, like through the county auditor or online.

A fix was put in place by DOL at the end of January, and Kohler said that to prevent that error from occurring again, the agency is verifying information on a daily basis.

In a written statement, Wyman said that her office is working with county election officials to ensure those previously unregistered voters get their ballots in time.

“We are also conducting additional analysis to ensure — for all individuals who choose to register through DOL from this point forward — that the data is transferred to us so those applicants can be registered to vote,” Wyman said in a written statement. “Those tests will be ongoing and conducted on a daily basis.”

Augino said that voters who want to check their voter status can go to myvote.wa.gov.

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