Mail-in vot­ing bill clears Se­nate

Times Standard (Eureka) - - FRONT PAGE - By Ruth Sch­nei­der rschnei­der@times-stan­dard.com

A judge in Sut­ter County on Fri­day tem­po­rar­ily blocked an ex­ec­u­tive or­der by Gov. Gavin New­som that would have al­lowed for the state to be vote-by­mail in the Novem­ber elec­tion.

Mean­while, in Sacra­mento, a bill that would also allow the state to move to pre­dom­i­nantly vote-by-mail amid the on­go­ing COVID-19 pan­demic cleared a ma­jor hur­dle in the state Se­nate. The bill is on track to reach the gover­nor’s desk this week, Assem­bly­mem­ber Marc Ber­man (D-Menlo Park) said in a news re­lease Fri­day.

“Chaos reigned in Wis­con­sin, where Gov. (Tony) Evers’ ex­ec­u­tive or­der was over­turned by the Wis­con­sin Supreme Court just days be­fore their pri­mary elec­tion, cre­at­ing con­fu­sion over what the vot­ing rules were and lead­ing to the dis­en­fran­chise­ment of thou­sands of vot­ers,” Ber­man said in a pre­pared state­ment. “While I am con­fi­dent that Gov. New­som’s ex­ec­u­tive or­der would pre­vail in Cal­i­for­nia, the pas­sage of AB 860 will pro­vide cer­tainty for our vot­ers and our elec­tions of­fi­cials.”

Elec­tion of­fi­cials na­tion­wide have ex­plored vote-by-mail op­tions this year be­cause of the pan­demic, prompt­ing con­dem­na­tion from Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump, who has claimed that “mail boxes will be robbed, bal­lots will be forged & even il­le­gally printed out & fraud­u­lently signed.”

Five states — Colorado, Hawaii, Ore­gon, Wash­ing­ton and Utah — con­duct elec­tions en­tirely by mail. None have re­ported sig­nif­i­cant fraud.

Most Cal­i­for­nia vot­ers al­ready vote by mail. More than 87% of reg­is­tered vot­ers are sched­uled to re­ceive a bal­lot in the mail be­fore the Novem­ber elec­tion.

In Humboldt County, around two-thirds of the more than 70,000 reg­is­tered vot­ers re­ceive a bal­lot in the mail. Humboldt County’s top elec­tions of­fi­cial Kelly San­ders is work­ing with North Coast law­mak­ers to pre­pare for the gen­eral elec­tion in Novem­ber.

She has said un­der the re­vi­sion there would be fewer in-per­son vot­ing sites across the county.

The Cal­i­for­nia sec­re­tary of state’s of­fice says send­ing ev­ery voter a bal­lot will cost an extra $72 mil­lion. Most of it would fall on lo­cal gov­ern­ments, with the state pay­ing $13 mil­lion for an outreach cam­paign. But law­mak­ers be­lieve most of that cost could be cov­ered by the fed­eral govern­ment.

Ber­man’s bill passed the Se­nate with a 31-7 vote Fri­day. It moves to the Assem­bly for a con­cur­rence vote this week be­fore head­ing to the gover­nor’s desk for a sig­na­ture.

FRANKIE FROST— MARIN IN­DE­PEN­DENT JOURNAL FILE

A Cal­i­for­nia law­maker is work­ing on leg­is­la­tion that could allow for all mail-in bal­lots to be sent to ev­ery reg­is­tered voter in the state.

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