Thursday, June 18, 2020

CA Legislature Passes Bill to Send Every Active Registered Voter a Mail-In Ballot

On June 18th, the California legislature Passed AB860, which provides that Every Active Registered Voter will Receive a Mail-In Ballot. This is Not a Big Change for California, because already 75% of the Registered Voters receive a Mail-In Ballot for the General Election in November. Some Counties were already following that Procedure, and in other Counties, a Large share of the Voters had Signed-Up to Automatically Receive a Postal Ballot.

AB860 would also Require County Officials to Count any Ballot that is Received 17 days After the Election, as long as it Postmarked by Election Day. That’s 14 Days Longer than under Current Law, which sets a Cutoff of the Friday after the Election. The Changes do Not Remove the Option to Cast a Ballot In-Person and would be in Effect Only for the 2020 General Election.

Supporters said the Bill was needed to provide Protection to Voters. “No one should have to risk their health and possibly their life to exercise their constitutional right to vote,” said Assemblyman, Marc Berman (D-24th District, Palo Alto), who carried AB860. “This will ensure that every California voter has the option to vote from the safety of their own home.”

Despite Objections by some Republican Groups that Expanding Mail Voting was a Power Grab by Democrats, AB860 Passed the Assembly by a Bipartisan Vote of 63-2. Among those who Supported the Bill were Two Republican Legislators who recently Sued to Stop the Governor, Gavin Newsom’s (D) Executive Order, saying the Governor had Overstepped his Emergency Powers under the Pandemic.

Assemblyman James Gallagher (R-3rd District, Sutter County), said the Mail-In Ballot Measure was Not Perfect, but he was comforted by Amendments that were Adopted to Exclude Inactive Voters, who had Not Participated in an Election in the Previous Four Years. Republicans have Argued that is a Safeguard is necessary to Prevent Fraud. “It’s important that these things are not done by an executive order, changing elections codes and statutes unliterally, but rather the Legislature is the one that needs to do this work,” Gallagher said.

A Sacramento Appellate Judge gave Newsom a Boost Wednesday when he Blocked a Temporary Restraining Order in the Lawsuit filed by Gallagher and Assemblyman Kevin Kiley (R-6th District, Placer County).

The Order issued last week by a Sutter County Superior Court Judge was aimed at Newsom’s June 3rd Executive Order calling for Mail-In Ballots as well as In-Person Vote Centers. It set a June 26th Hearing in Yuba City to determine whether Newsom should be Stopped from “further exercising any legislative powers in violation of the California Constitution ... specifically from unilaterally amending, altering or changing existing statutory law or making new statutory law.”

The New Two-Sentence Order by Presiding Judge, Vance Raye, of the Third District Court of Appeal, Stayed the Restraining Order but Allowed the Hearing to go Forward.

The Measure still awaits the Signature of Governor Newsom.

NYC Wins When Everyone Can Vote! Michael H. Drucker

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