Mail-in voting bill clears Senate
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.
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.