EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

Merrimack Valley

December 16, 2012

Some RMV voter registrations caused problems

Ken Ebert moved back to Massachusetts, and his native Methuen, in 2010 and among the list of personal documents he had to change was his driver’s license.

He converted his license at the Lawrence Registry office, according to the RMV. At the same time, Ebert said he checked the so-called “motor voter” option, meaning he chose to register to vote at the RMV while converting his license.

But when he showed up at his polling place at the Timony Grammar School Nov. 6 to vote in the presidential election, workers there could not find him on the roll. One of the workers told him there sometimes are errors when registering to vote with the RMV. Local city and town clerks also said that some voters are confused about address changes at the Registry, assuming changing a driver’s license automatically changes voter information.

“I went to register when I went to get my license changed over, and there was a box to register to vote,” Ebert, 39, said. “That seemed pretty official. It’s the RMV.”

Christine Touma-Conway, the Methuen City Clerk, said sometimes there is a “glitch” in getting the information from the RMV to localities about voter changes and information. However, oftentimes people think they registered to vote but actually did not.

“Often, probably more often than (the RMV) didn’t get information to us, (people) checked no on their applications,” she said.

“I would say usually a third or so will end up being registered,” she said. “We do actually get copies. (The RMV) give us a verbal answer, then they give us a copy the actual application.”

In Ebert’s case, “we verified that an error occurred within the Lawrence branch and Mr. Ebert was not properly registered to vote,” said Sara Lavoie, a spokeswoman for the Massachusetts Department of Transportation, which oversees the RMV.

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