Regulation

GOP sues California over Newsom's vote-by-mail order

The Republican Party is suing California Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) over his order to send every registered voter in the state a ballot by mail for the November elections.

"[California's] election system is already burdened with serious issues. The disastrous Motor Voter program arbitrarily changed voter registration for thousands casting doubt on the integrity and accuracy of our voter rolls," California Republican Party Chairwoman Jessica Millan Patterson said in a statement on Sunday.

The lawsuit, filed in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of California, alleges the directive deprives Californians of their constitutional right to vote by making fraudulent voting inevitable. 

The lawsuit from the Republican Party and the California Republican Party follows a similar suit from former Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) and the conservative group Judicial Watch.

In their complaint, filed Friday, Judicial Watch, which filed the complaint on behalf of Issa, argued the governor's move was "an unlawful attempt to supersede and replace California election law."

Newsom signed an order earlier this month directing county officials to send mail-in ballots to every voter in the state, pointing to public health risks associated with large public gatherings stemming from 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."

GOP officials have said it will leave the system open to widespread voter fraud, and President Trump has also frequently spoken out against the expansion of mail-in voting in recent days.

"The United States cannot have all Mail In Ballots. It will be the greatest Rigged Election in history," Trump tweeted on Sunday, without citing any evidence for his claims. "People grab them from mailboxes, print thousands of forgeries and 'force' people to sign. Also, forge names. Trying to use Covid for this Scam!"

"Facilitating the opportunity for all registered voters to vote-by-mail during a the COVID-19 pandemic is not a partisan issue-it's a moral imperative that will protect voting rights and public health. Vote-by-mail has been used safely and effectively in red, blue, and purple states for years. This lawsuit is yet another part of Trump's political smear campaign against vote-by-mail. We will not let our democracy be a casualty of this pandemic," California Secretary of State Alex Padilla (D) said in a statement Sunday.

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