California Gov. Gavin Newsom issued an executive order Friday allowing residents to vote by mail in three upcoming special elections as a precaution against the Chinese coronavirus.
The press release continued:
The order also extends the deadlines for ballot counting, tabulation, and other responsibilities related to the official canvass of California’s Presidential Primary Election that could risk undermining social distancing measures, and suspends the timeframes for public hearings required by political subdivisions that are in the process of changing from an at-large method of election to district elections.
The governor’s office said the purpose of the order is to protect public health and safety during the Chinese coronavirus pandemic.
The special elections “shall each be held as an all-mail ballot election and conducted according to those provisions of the Elections Code that govern all-mail ballot elections,” the order’s text read.
The document continued:
The respective county elections officials responsible for conducting each respective election shall transmit vote-by-mail ballots to all voters eligible to vote in each respective election. Notwithstanding the other provisions of this Order, elections officials are also authorized, and encouraged, to make in-person voting opportunities available on or before Election Day for each of these elections in a manner consistent with public health and safety, to maximize voter accessibility.
Elections officials shall provide maximum possible notice to voters about how to participate in each of these elections, paying particular attention to the needs of voters at high risk from COVID-19, individuals with disabilities, and other voters with particularized needs.
However, states would be better off taking small steps at first when it comes to voting by mail, according to Charles Stewart, a professor of political science at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
“Hastily implemented changes to voting rules and laws can end up causing all types of problems that you didn’t anticipate,” he noted.
Despite the dangers, Hillary Clinton urged government leaders on Twitter recently to “make voting by mail the norm going forward”:
Congress needs to act to make voting by mail the norm going forward, with the specifics outlined by election expert Marc Elias below to make it accessible for all. https://t.co/K2TlHIJx2d
— Hillary Clinton (@HillaryClinton) March 18, 2020
“Several states already allow voting by mail, though Republicans have warned that California’s system is vulnerable to fraud,” wrote Breitbart News’s Joel B. Pollak on Wednesday.
“There, Democrats legalized a system called ‘ballot harvesting,’ which allows unverified third parties to deliver each other’s ballots — effectively allowing party organizers to bring thousands of ballots to be counted,” he concluded.