California became a vote-by-mail state Friday after Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom issued an executive order that will automatically ship out ballots to everyone who can vote in November.
Although the order noted that in-person voting will still be allowed, it also said that “every Californian who is eligible to vote in the November 3, 2020 General Election shall receive a vote-by-mail ballot.”
“Mail-in ballot is important but it’s not an exclusive substitute to physical locations,” Newsom said Friday, according to CBS News. He added that the state is still working toward having “the appropriate number of physical sites for people to vote as well.”
In his order, Newsom explained that “it is unknown to what degree COVID-19 will pose a threat to public health in November, and California and its counties must begin taking action now — to procure supplies, secure polling places, enlist volunteers, and draw up plans, among other steps — to ensure that the November 3, 2020 General Election is held in a manner that is accessible, secure, and safe.”
California currently provides absentee ballots upon request, but will now send them to all registered voters 29 days before the election — or 45 days ahead of the vote for members of the armed forces or Californians living out of the country.
Newsom’s order means California is the first state to specifically “call an all-mail ballot November election,” according to Politico. Registered voters in five other states, though, already receive ballots for every election by mail, Vox reported.
“There is no safer, physically distancing, healthier way to exercise your right to vote than from the safety and convenience of your own home,” California Secretary of State Alex Padilla said.
Return postage on all ballots will be prepaid, he said.
California’s counties have until May 30 to present their vote-by-mail plans to the state.
Not everyone agreed with Newsom’s edict:
This is absurd.
The governor has no data or science to suggest that going to the polls in November will be unsafe.
He is ruling by fiat now.
— Melissa Melendez (@asmMelendez) May 9, 2020
Gov. Newsom boasts California is the “first state” to make this change. Perhaps that’s because other states are still functioning democracies, where new laws need to pass a Legislature.
— Kevin Kiley (@KevinKileyCA) May 8, 2020
.@HillaryClinton, of course you’d be for disenfranchising millions of voters with the democrats’ vote by mail scheme. Let’s take a look at what a disaster that’s been in the past. https://t.co/akTBEPrWOG
— Glen Woodfin (@GlenWoodfin) May 9, 2020
Democrats have used the COVID-19 pandemic to call for a mammoth embrace of voting by mail.
Republicans have pushed back, saying election security could be compromised.
Tim Murtaugh, communications director for the re-election campaign of President Donald Trump, said Newsom wanted to “undermine election security” and called the order a”thinly-veiled political tactic.”
Murtaugh said sending ballots to everyone creates a “wide open opportunity for fraud.”
“Everyone is concerned about the safety of voters, but jeopardizing election security is the wrong way to go about it,” he told CBS in a statement.
— NRCC (@NRCC) May 9, 2020
National Republican Congressional Committee chair Tom Emmer said Newsom “continues to dodge questions about ballot harvesting posing an immediate threat to public health.”
Ballot harvesting takes place when an individual gathers ballots sent to other voters and then submits them, instead of voters sending them in themselves.
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