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Gov. Newsom Signs Law To Send Mail-In Ballots To All Registered California Voters

Voting envelope - Lindsey Bieda Flickr.jpg
Lindsey Bieda / Flickr

All registered voters in California will get a mail-in ballot ahead of the November election — Gov. Gavin Newsom is making sure of that.

On Thursday, following a final bipartisan vote in the state Legislature, Newsom signed a bill codifying one of a pair of executive orders he’s issued to address voter access during the coronavirus pandemic, each of which have faced legal challenges.

Assembly Bill 860 cements his first order, which Newsom issued in early May and requires county election officials to send every eligible voter a mail-in ballot.

Later, he signed another executive order requiring a set amount of in-person polling places.

The plan by Newsom and Democratic Secretary of State Alex Padilla is to expand mail-in and early-voting in order to avoid crowded polling places on Election Day, as seen in other states like Wisconsin and Georgia.

Republicans sued over both Newsom’s orders, labeling them executive overreach. His signature on the bill effectively nullifies GOP challenges to the May executive order.

A companion Senate bill, which still needs to pass the Legislature, would address the second challenge over in-person voting, brought by two Republican state lawmakers.

Last week, a district court judge in Sutter County issued an injunction in that case, agreeing that Newsom’s June 3 order requiring early voting and a certain number of in-person polling places per capita was “an impermissible use of legislative powers.”

AB 860 author Assemblyman Marc Berman (D-Menlo Park) said giving every voter “the opportunity to vote from the safety of their own home is the responsible thing to do.”

“No Californian should have to risk their health – and possibly their life – to exercise their constitutional right to vote,” he said.

Padilla also praised the governor’s signature of the legislation, calling it “simply common sense” to fortify mail-in voting during a pandemic.

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