CA Secretary of State on GOP’s Vote-by-Mail Lawsuit: We Won’t Let Virus Be ‘Exploited’ for Voter Suppression

A box of ballots mailed in for the Washington state primary election are shown Tuesday, March 10, 2020, at the King County Elections headquarters in Renton, Wash. Washington is a vote-by-mail state. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)
AP Photo/Ted S. Warren

California Secretary of State Alex Padilla (D) responded Sunday evening to Republicans’ lawsuit against the state to block Gov. Gavin Newsom’s (D) recent vote-by-mail order, suggesting the move is a “political smear campaign” by President Donald Trump, designed to use the Chinese coronavirus pandemic for voter suppression.

“Expanding vote-by-mail during a pandemic is not a partisan issue — it’s a moral imperative to protect voting rights and public safety. Vote-by-mail has been used safely and effectively in red, blue, and purple states for years,” Padilla wrote on social media. “This lawsuit is just another part of Trump’s political smear campaign against voting by mail. We will not let this virus be exploited for voter suppression.”

Earlier Sunday, the Republican National Committee (RNC), National Republican Congressional Committee (NRCC), and California Republican Party (CRP) sued Newsom and Padilla, alleging an executive order mandating that all state registered voters receive mail-in ballots is an “illegal power grab.”

“In a direct usurpation of the legislature’s authority, Governor Newsom issued an executive order purporting to rewrite the entire election code for the November 2020 election cycle,” the lawsuit reads. “This brazen power grab was not authorized by state law and violates both the Elections Clause and Electors Clause of the U.S. Constitution.”

The complaint alleges that Newsom has “created a recipe for disaster” that could possibly invite voter fraud.

The suit was filed in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of California.

“Democrats continue to use this pandemic as a ploy to implement their partisan election agenda, and Governor Newsom’s executive order is the latest direct assault on the integrity of our elections,” RNC chairwoman Ronna McDaniel said of the suit. “Newsom’s illegal power grab is a recipe for disaster that would destroy the confidence Californians deserve to have in the security of their vote.”

The suit was filed hours before President Trump accused Democrats of attempting to use the pandemic to push mail-in ballot plans for the November election, warning the move will lead to “the greatest Rigged Election in history.”

“The United States cannot have all Mail In Ballots. It will be the greatest Rigged Election in history. People grab them from mailboxes, print thousands of forgeries and “force” people to sign,” the president tweeted. “Also, forge names. Some absentee OK, when necessary. Trying to use Covid for this Scam.”

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