California Enacts November Mail Voting Law – With Surprising GOP Support

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Postal ballots are placed in garbage cans for processing after arriving at the Sacramento County Voter Registration Office in 2018. | AP Photo / Rich Pedroncelli

By JEREMY B. WHITE

Update

Governor Gavin Newsom Reinforced Thursday’s Plan To Send Every Elector A Ballot For The November Election By Signing Legislation Passed Earlier The Same Day With Support From Several Republicans, Denying Multi-Month Critics Of The Vote absent from President Donald Trump and other GOP leaders.

Newsom had previously ordered county election officials to send all eligible ballots to Californians to prevent the general election from becoming a danger to the health of coronaviruses. But this directive has raised multiple legal challenges – including on the part of the California Republican Party – if enshrining the all-mail mandate in law places it on a more solid legal basis.

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By signing Assembly Bill 860, Newsom defused the main legal argument against the argument of universal mail voting. The plaintiffs argued that he overstepped his powers by implementing a drastic change in election management without consulting the Legislative Assembly.

California elected officials wanted to avoid a situation like the Wisconsin April primary, where long queues potentially exposed voters to other people for long periods of time. Assembly member Marc Berman (D-Palo Alto) said that AB 860 would prevent Californians from being effectively denied their rights. California Secretary of State Alex Padilla also supports the measure.

“No one should have to risk their health and perhaps their life to exercise their constitutional right to vote,” said Berman.

The bill would not end face-to-face voting, which according to state law must always be available. A complementary measure in the Senate would widen the possibilities of physically voting on polling day and on the preceding days; a Newsom decree doing the same is entangled in a legal dispute.

The assembly passed the bill in a 63-3 vote Thursday morning and immediately sent it to Newsom. It takes immediate effect as an emergency measure which has received the support of two thirds of the two houses.

Republicans who supported the bill have welcomed wording ensuring that ballots will not be sent to inactive voters who did not participate in the last election. The Trump administration has entered a lawsuit to find inactive voters on the lists for wrongly claiming that California is sending ballots to ineligible voters.

Postal voting has become a partisan flashpoint as Democrats seek to expand the option before the presidential election. Trump decried the ballots for putting Republicans at a disadvantage and has repeatedly claimed that it led to fraud in California. Trump’s re-election campaign and the National Republican Committee have set aside millions of dollars to fight the expansions in court.

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