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State hotline gave wrong information on voter registration deadline

Some callers to Secretary of State Debra Bowen's voter information hotline got wrong information about the deadline for registration Californians who want to cast ballots in next month's election can register to vote as late as Oct. 22, but that is not what many people heard Monday when they called a voter hotline operated by the California secretary of state's office.

Some callers to (800) 345-VOTE got a recorded message giving correct information, but others heard an inaccurate message saying, "Voter registration for the Nov. 6 election is now closed."

The incorrect message was removed from the hotline at 4:15 p.m. Monday, according to an email from Shannan Velayas, a spokeswoman for Secretary of State Debra Bowen.

Velayas said the hotline can handle 24 calls at once before rolling over to a backup phone line. The incorrect message, which was supposed to begin running Oct. 23, was mistakenly included on the rollover line, she said, adding that a communications contractor is responsible for the error is and trying to find out what caused it.

Kim Alexander of the nonprofit California Voter Foundation, which seeks to encourage people to participate in elections, said, "Registering and voting is confusing enough as it is. It's unfortunate the secretary of state's office is contributing to the confusion.''

This year, Californians can register to vote online by going to http://registertovote.ca.gov/

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-- Patrick McGreevy in Sacramento

Photo: Secretary of State Debra Bowen. Credit: Ringo H.W. Chiu / For The Times

 
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