State Watch

Newsom orders vote-by-mail in California for November election

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California Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) announced Friday he has signed an executive order that requires county officials to send vote-by-mail ballots to every registered voter in the state. 

Newsom said California will work with people with disabilities, those experiencing homelessness and voters who do not speak English to ensure that in-person voting is still accessible to those who need it. But he said the access to mail-in voting would ensure that Californians would be able to cast ballots safely during the coronavirus pandemic. 

“Elections and the right to vote are foundational to our democracy,” he said in a statement. “No Californian should be forced to risk their health in order to exercise their right to vote. Mail-in ballots aren’t a perfect solution for every person, and I look forward to our public health experts and the Secretary of State’s and the Legislature’s continued partnership to create safer in-person opportunities for Californians who aren’t able to vote by mail.” 

Newsom said his administration would continue to work with local officials to clarify any necessary requirements for in-person voting opportunities “while preserving public health.” He added that another executive order may be necessary if counties do not have “clarity for in-person voting opportunities” by May 30. 

“California will not force voters to choose between protecting their health and exercising their right to vote. I thank Governor Newsom for taking decisive action now, to preserve voting rights and provide sufficient time to properly prepare for the General Election,” said Secretary of State Alex Padilla (D). “We are meeting our obligation to provide an accessible, secure, and safe election this November.” 

The executive order makes California the first state to commit to sending mail-in ballots to every registered voter in response to the coronavirus as officials across the country grapple with how to balance public health concerns with maintaining voter access in November. 

Democrats have said such measures are necessary to maintain turnout, while Republicans have claimed, without evidence, that mail-in voting is susceptible to fraud.

Tags California Coronavirus Gavin Newsom in-person voting mail-in voting voting by mail
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