May 8 (UPI) — California Gov. Gavin Newsom on Friday signed an executive order requiring mail-in ballots be sent to all eligible voters for the November election.
The measure is meant to limit the spread of the novel coronavirus at polling places.
“Elections and the right to vote are foundational to our democracy,” Newsom said. “No Californian should be forced to risk their health in order to exercise their right to vote.
“Mail-in ballots aren’t a perfect solution for every person, and I look forward to our public health experts and the secretary of state’s and the Legislature’s continued partnership to create safer in-person opportunities for Californians who aren’t able to vote by mail.”
He said in-person voting places will still be available for those who need it, including people with disabilities, those who speak languages other than English and those who are homeless.
It will be up to the individual county’s elections officials to send out the ballots and arrange for in-person voting opportunities.
There’s been a growing push by some politicians to allow vote-by-mail to encourage continued social distancing during the spread of COVID-19. Some states allow only those physically unable to vote in person — the disabled and elderly — to vote by mail.
A Gallup poll released last month indicated that 70 percent of Americans favor allowing all registered voters to vote by mail.
Meanwhile, a study spearheaded by New York University’s Brennan Center for Justice found that though the federal government provided $400 million in grants to help states run their elections, the amount isn’t enough to adjust for the increased costs associated with the pandemic.
“Today we become the first state in the nation to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic by mailing every registered voter a ballot. We are meeting our obligation to provide an accessible, secure, and safe election this November. Sending every registered voter a ballot by mail is smart policy and absolutely the right thing to do during this COVID-19 pandemic,” California Secretary of State Alex Padilla said Friday.