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State government

California Republicans allege that the state's online voter registration system isn't secure

 (Los Angeles Times)
(Los Angeles Times)

Leaders of the California Republican Party are alleging that the state's online voter registration system is susceptible to voter fraud, and say they are considering possible legal action in the days or weeks to come.

Harmeet Dhillon, the state party's former vice chair and now a member of the Republican National Committee, said Sunday that party leaders believe the 4-year-old system allows multiple people to be registered from the same computer.

"The [California] secretary of state's website does not track the IP addresses of the people who register to vote," Dhillon said in a phone interview. "You could literally register hundreds or thousands of people from the same computer."

When asked Tuesday how a single computer used to register multiple voters might be an indicator of fraud, Dhillon said she believes such a situation makes investigating fraudulent activity more difficult. But she said she does not support any ban on public computers for registering voters, such as the ones used in libraries.

The voter registration website, which asks for personal information, including a driver's license number and the last four digits of a Social Security number, was launched in 2012. State elections officials boasted last month of a record number of voter registration visits — more than half a million — on the website over two days in late October.

"There is more security on the websites that I shopped on Black Friday than there is on the secretary of state’s website," Dhillon said.

An email sent to GOP leaders last weekend by the chairman of the California Republican Party, Jim Brulte, suggested possible legal action over the online site. The email, a copy of which was obtained by the Los Angeles Times, also outlined a handful of other "voter registration/turnout irregularities" during the 2016 election cycle.

In a written statement to The Times, Secretary of State Alex Padilla said his staff regularly assesses security of the site and blocks any suspicious activity.

"Undermining confidence in our elections by making unfounded claims of security vulnerabilities and voter fraud is irresponsible," Padilla said. "I will continue to work to protect the integrity of our elections systems while making the voting experience, from voter registration to casting a ballot, accessible, fair and honest."

Padilla was vocal over the weekend in criticizing the unproven allegations of widespread voter fraud in California by President-elect Donald Trump.

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3:37 p.m.: This article was updated with comments from Harmeet Dhillon regarding the security of public computers.

FOR THE RECORD, 7:25 p.m.: A previous version of this post incorrectly quoted Harmeet Dhillon as saying, "You could literally register hundreds of thousands of people from the same computer." The figures she cited were "hundreds or thousands."

This article was originally published at 2:26 p.m.

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