In a move sure to raise the hackles of Republicans, California’s Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom has issued an executive order mandating mail-in ballots be sent to all registered voters for the November election, a move he said was aimed at safeguarding voter access and safety in the pandemic.
Newsom said in a statement, “Elections and the right to vote are foundational to our democracy. No Californian should be forced to risk their health in order to exercise their right to vote.”
The order instructs every California county to send a ballot to all 20.6 million California voters, but in-person voting will remain an available option, the Washington Examiner noted.
In actuality, it won’t be that dramatic a change – some 72% of votes in the March primaries were sent by mail, and 14 California counties already mail ballots to their voters. However, Newsom’s order will make the state the first to send ballots to every voter.
Secretary of State Alex Padilla said: “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. We are meeting our obligation to provide an accessible, secure, and safe election this November,” The Hill reported.
Republicans are voicing alarm on the issue, and President Donald Trump has himself warned that mail-in voting has "tremendous potential for voter fraud, and for whatever reason, doesn't work out well for Republicans," the Washington Examiner said.
“Democrats may be using the Coronavirus as an excuse to strip away important election safeguards, but the American people continue to support common-sense protections that defend the integrity of our democratic processes,” Republican National Committee chief of staff Richard Walters said, Yahoo News reported.
On the national level, House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calf., reacted to Democrats’ efforts to get funding for mail-in voting in the next coronavirus relief bill, calling it “disgusting."
“You want to hold up the bill because you want to change election law for November, because you think that gives you some political benefit? That’s disgusting to me. … Stop worrying about politics. Worry about what’s in front of us. And that’s the health of the nation … and our economy,” Politico quoted him as saying.
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