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Thursday, July 2, 2020

Gavin Newsom signs law ordering mail-in ballots for November election

Gov. Gavin Newsom signed a law Thursday requiring elections officials to mail a ballot to every registered, active voter in the state ahead of the November election. The bill almost mirrors the election-related executive orders that Newsom issued since the …
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Gov. Gavin Newsom signed a law Thursday requiring elections officials to mail a ballot to every registered, active voter in the state ahead of the November election.

The bill almost mirrors the election-related executive orders that Newsom issued since the coronavirus outbreak, which guarantees that registered voters receive ballots ahead of the election.

Republicans have criticized the orders and challenged them in court as examples of executive overreach. Lawmakers passed the legislation to ensure that voters don’t have to go to a polling place while the novel coronavirus is spreading.

“No one should have to risk their health — and possibly their life — to exercise their constitutional right to vote,” bill co-author Assemblyman Marc Berman, D-Palo Alto, said in a release. “In the midst of a deadly health pandemic, giving all California voters the opportunity to vote from the safety of their own home is the responsible thing to do.”

Californians vote largely by mail to begin with: In March’s primary election, some 78 percent of active registered voters received a ballot in their mailbox. The concept has the support of nearly three-quarters of likely voters, according to a recent poll from the Public Policy Institute of California.

In a tweet last month, President Donald Trump criticized an expanded vote-by-mail proposal as an unnecessary vulnerability to foreign interference and spread a sparsely supported claim that it’s ripe for fraud.

“The Governor of California is sending Ballots to millions of people, ….living in the state, no matter who they are or how they got there, will get one,” Trump wrote. “That will be followed up with professionals telling all of these people, many of whom have never even thought of voting before, how, and for whom, to vote. This will be a Rigged Election. No way!”

Last week, Sutter County Superior Court Judge Perry Parker signed a temporary restraining order to halt Newsom’s latest executive order on election procedures. An appellate judge halted Perry’s order Wednesday to await further legal discussions.

Polling stations will still be open across California for the Nov. 3 general election. But amid a coronavirus pandemic that may continue through November, these in-person voting booths could pose a high risk for catching and spreading the virus — a dangerous proposition, said Assemblyman Miguel Santiago, D-Los Angeles, in a statement.

“We will not risk lives this November by forcing voters to head to the polls unnecessarily amidst a pandemic,” he said. “I’m proud that California is one step closer to expanding vote by mail to all registered voters. We must always place the health and well-being of our residents above the toxic politics of Trump’s administration.”

The law also allows officials to accept ballots mailed as late as 17 days after the election.

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