Democrats suspect registration errors at Montco PennDOT centers

    Democratic leaders in Montgomery County worry that registration errors at PennDOT centers may be denying them–and the Republicans–party members.

    Leaders believe the problem at the kiosks may involve off-the-shelf software that includes inappropriate registration categories from other states.

    Under the “motor voter law,” residents can register to vote at electronic kiosks when they get a driver’s license.

    Montco Democrats say an unusually large number of voters who signed up at PennDOT centers ended up as independents, without a party affiliation. That not only thins party ranks, but it means those so registered can’t vote in Democratic or Republican primaries.

    • WHYY thanks our sponsors — become a WHYY sponsor

    Democrat Steve McCarter said that when he renewed his driver’s license in December, he decided to register again at a PennDOT kiosk to test the system.

    He said the computer gave him some strange registration options.

    “The screen came up with 60 different categories, different parties, and I registered as an independent Democrat, just to see what would happen,” McCarter said.

    There’s no such thing as an “independent Democrat” under Pennsylvania election law. The machine plopped McCarter into the independent category, which means he is ineligible to vote in a Pennsylvania primary.

    He suspects the independent Democrat option is in the software for states that don’t have closed primaries the way Pennsylvania does.

    State election officials say they’re looking into it.

    WHYY is your source for fact-based, in-depth journalism and information. As a nonprofit organization, we rely on financial support from readers like you. Please give today.

    Want a digest of WHYY’s programs, events & stories? Sign up for our weekly newsletter.

    Together we can reach 100% of WHYY’s fiscal year goal