Nearly 7,000 Voters to Receive Late Election Ballots

February 6, 2018


Software error prevented transmission of some licensing information to election officials

OLYMPIA — Nearly 7,000 voters will receive ballots this week for the February special election via first class mail due to a software error in the Department of Licensing’s (DOL) driver licensing database system that caused information to not be transmitted to the Office of the Secretary of State’s (OSOS) Voter Registration Division under Washington’s Motor Voter law.

Both OSOS and DOL have been working to ensure voters receive their ballots in time for the February Special Election. The data error was discovered in late January. Working with OSOS, the DOL Information Services team learned that when some customers changed their name (with or without an address change), and were assigned a new driver license number, those changes were made in DOL’s system but were not transmitted to OSOS’s system. Once the error was identified, the DOL team worked over the weekend of January 26 to develop and test a fix to the 30-year-old driver database system. The software fix was released into production on the evening of January 30.

DOL and OSOS worked together to match the voter data in the two systems. They determined the number of impacted voters is 6,969 statewide. These voters will receive special processing to receive ballots this week for the February 2018 election.

“We worked closely with the Office of the Secretary of State to identify and resolve this issue quickly,” said Pat Kohler, DOL Director. “We regret these errors occurred and we have put in place new controls that monitor daily transmitted voter information to the Secretary of State to ensure it is complete and accurate. This error underscores the importance of replacing our decades-old driver licensing database system, which is scheduled to occur this September.”

Kohler said DOL appreciates the partnership of the OSOS in this situation, and their willingness to work toward a solution. DOL will also reimburse County Auditors for the cost of mailing ballots to affected voters that didn’t receive ballots.

Voters can verify their address, name and registration information at http://myvote.wa.gov. Questions or concerns about voter status can be directed to county auditors. A full list of county auditors is available here: https://www.sos.wa.gov/elections/viewauditors.aspx.

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For more information about the Department of Licensing, please visit our website at dol.wa.gov.


Recent KING 5 report about DOL facial recognition program contained a false statement

January 24, 2012

Individuals who fraudulently obtain Washington state driver licenses and ID cards present a serious risk to the safety and economic health of our residents and businesses. To fight this type of illegal activity, DOL has been working with the State Legislature for several years to obtain the authority to use a proven, non-invasive facial recognition system already in use for our Enhanced Driver License program to monitor regular driver license and ID card transactions for potential fraud.

In a story broadcast during the 11 p.m. newscast on January 23, 2012, KING 5 stated that DOL operated facial recognition software for regular driver license and ID card transactions without legal authority. This is a false statement. DOL was fully authorized to operate this system as a pilot program by our state’s 2009-2011 transportation budget. This budget, passed by the Legislature and signed by the Governor on May 13, 2009, contained this provision:

“(7) The department may seek federal funds to implement a driver’s license and identicard biometric matching system pilot program to verify the identity of applicants for, and holders of, drivers’ licenses and identicards. If funds are received, the department shall report any benefits or problems identified during the course of the pilot program to the transportation committees of the legislature upon the completion of the program.”

The pilot program ended when the 2009-2011 transportation budget expired. We are now working with the Legislature to make the use of this technology a permanent part of our processes.

DOL appreciates KING 5’s efforts to keep the public informed about the use of our facial recognition system, but it is important for the public to understand that DOL has not used this system in any way that was not fully authorized by law.

The use of facial recognition in our Enhanced Driver License program and in our regular driver license and ID card processes during the pilot program from November 2009 through June 2011 has demonstrated a need to have this system in place to make sure DOL is doing everything possible to protect public safety and the personal identity information of our state’s residents.

The use of facial recognition in our Enhanced Driver License program and our pilot program has identified three primary reasons individuals fraudulently obtain multiple driver licenses or ID cards. These are:

• To continue driving after a driver license suspension or revocation

• To purchase or consume alcohol as a minor

• To engage in criminal activities including identity theft

In 2011, the use of facial recognition by our agency resulted in 571 driver license suspensions and the cancellation of 560 fraudulent records and the associated cards. We also are working our way through 3,800 more cases of fraud identified by the facial recognition system during the pilot program.

Our facial recognition system also has allowed us to identify cases where individuals were maintaining multiple identities to fraudulently collect benefits through state entitlement programs.