Republicans on Sunday fired back against California Gov. Gavin Newsom’s proposed voting-by-mail plan.
Earlier this month, Newsom issued an executive order to embrace voting by mail for the fall elections. The order indicated that in-person voting would still be allowed but said that “every Californian who is eligible to vote in the November 3, 2020 General Election shall receive a vote-by-mail ballot.”
The Republican National Committee, National Republican Congressional Committee and California Republican Party filed a lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of California.
The suit targets Newsom and California Secretary of State Alex Padilla, whose office oversees elections.
“In a direct usurpation of the legislature’s authority, Governor Newsom issued an executive order purporting to rewrite the entire election code for the November 2020 election,” the lawsuit said.
“This brazen power grab was not authorized by state law and violates both the Elections Clause and Electors Clause of the U.S. Constitution. The Governor’s Order is invalid and must be enjoined,” it said.
The lawsuit said Newsom “created a system that will violate eligible citizens’ right to vote.”
“By ordering that vote-by-mail ballots be automatically sent to every registered voter — including inactive voters, voters with invalid registrations, voters who have moved, voters who have died, and voters who don’t want a ballot — he has created a recipe for disaster,” the suit said.
Although every state allows for mail-in absentee ballots, the scale of California’s effort is unique, according to the lawsuit.
“No State that regularly conducts statewide all-mail elections automatically mails ballots to inactive voters because it invites fraud, coercion, theft, and otherwise illegitimate voting. Fraudulent and invalid votes dilute the votes of honest citizens and deprive them of their right to vote in violation of the Fourteenth Amendment,” the suit said.
The suit also said voters will be deprived of their rights because the governor “reserved for himself the sole discretion to choose if and where voting will occur. Such unbridled discretion, which leads to arbitrary and disparate of individual voters, violates the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment.”
The suit said California’s plan fails to acknowledge that voter registration rolls are often inaccurate due to “bureaucratic failures, intentional fraud, and inadvertent mistakes.”
“Because of these widespread inaccuracies, a state that sends ballots to all registered voters will necessarily send ballots to persons with fake registrations, invalid registrations, or outdated registrations. Placing hundreds of thousands of ballots ‘outside of both election officials’ control and the hands of voters who are supposed to be casting them raises a serious threat to both the actual and perceived integrity of the electoral system,” the lawsuit said.
“These risks are compounded by the practice of ballot harvesting — that is, coordinated efforts to have third parties collect absentee ballots from voters and drop them off at polling places or elections centers,” it said.
The lawsuit noted that voting by mail has become a prime goal of the Democratic Party.
“The Democratic National Committee, state Democratic parties, and several affiliated groups have filed lawsuits across the country to force a hurried transition to no-excuse mail-in voting, eliminate voter-identification requirements, and remove other existing safeguards. Democrats pushed these changes long before COVID-19 because they believe that the resulting free-for-all will help their electoral prospects. Unable to persuade legislatures to adopt these changes, Democrats have turned to the courts, arguing that COVID-19 means that their preferred changes are now mandated by the Constitution,” the suit said.
RNC Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel elaborated upon the partisan nature of voting by mail in a statement.
Make no mistake, Democrats are trying to use this pandemic to redesign our entire election system for political gain, and we will not let their brazen attempts go unchallenged.
Go to https://t.co/ImFKSGulau and help us fight back!
— Ronna McDaniel (@GOPChairwoman) May 24, 2020
“Democrats continue to use this pandemic as a ploy to implement their partisan election agenda, and Governor Newsom’s executive order is the latest direct assault on the integrity of our elections,” she said. “Newsom’s illegal power grab is a recipe for disaster that would destroy the confidence Californians deserve to have in the security of their vote.”
Padilla responded to the lawsuit on Twitter, saying, “Expanding vote-by-mail during a pandemic is not a partisan issue — it’s a moral imperative to protect voting rights and public safety. Vote-by-mail has been used safely and effectively in red, blue, and purple states for years.”
This lawsuit is just another part of Trump’s political smear campaign against voting by mail. We will not let this virus be exploited for voter suppression. (2/2) https://t.co/dGyp5sMbQ2
— Alex Padilla (@AlexPadilla4CA) May 25, 2020
The Democrat called the lawsuit part of President Donald Trump’s “political smear campaign against voting by mail. We will not let this virus be exploited for voter suppression.”
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