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California Legislature OKs bill to mail ballot to all voters

State lawmakers sent Gov. Gavin Newsom a bill to require county election officials to mail a ballot to every registered voter.

Posted: Oct 19, 2020 6:04 AM
Updated: Oct 19, 2020 6:04 AM

Los Angeles (AP) — The California Assembly on Thursday sent Gov. Gavin Newsom a bill to require county election officials to mail a ballot to every registered voter, cementing into law the Democratic governor’s earlier order to mail out ballots statewide in response to the coronavirus outbreak.

Newsom, citing health risks, announced in early May that the state will send every voter a mail-in ballot for the November contest, but that order has been challenged in court. If signed, the bill would give the order the force of law and provide “clarity” for election officials, said Assemblyman Marc Berman, a Menlo Park Democrat who sponsored the bill.

"No one should have to risk their health and possibly their life to exercise their constitutional right to vote,” Berman said in a statement. “In the midst of a deadly health pandemic, giving all California voters the opportunity to vote from the safety of their own home is the responsible thing to do.”

In-person voting places will remain available for those who might need them.

The spread of mail-in voting as a reaction to potential health risks from the virus has become a point of conflict between Democrats and Republicans nationally.

President Donald Trump has been among the skeptics and has said that “a lot of people cheat with mail-in voting,” without providing evidence.

The bill was passed 68-5, with six members not voting. The opponents were all Republicans.

Republicans who backed the bill noted that ballots will not be mailed to so-called inactive voters, who have not participated in recent elections.

Historically, there is no evidence of widespread voter fraud through mail-in voting. In the state’s March primary, more than 75% of California voters received a vote-by-mail ballot.

With the move to statewide mail-in ballots, California hopes to avoid the problems that plagued presidential primaries in Wisconsin and Georgia, where thousands of voters, some without protective face masks, were forced to wait for hours in long lines.

For most people, the new coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough that clear up in two to three weeks. For some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia, and death. The vast majority of people recover.

California Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 3566914

Reported Deaths: 52158
CountyCasesDeaths
Los Angeles119192321435
Riverside2894503767
San Bernardino2866072874
Orange2612203917
San Diego2600913284
Santa Clara1106211777
Kern102627827
Fresno953931443
Sacramento932811472
Alameda806681242
Ventura77623844
San Joaquin665691101
Contra Costa62248681
Stanislaus56132946
Tulare47784758
Monterey42138328
San Mateo38998515
San Francisco34260412
Santa Barbara31805411
Solano30024164
Merced28915397
Sonoma28141298
Imperial26903591
Kings21955218
Placer19763232
San Luis Obispo19612227
Madera15467209
Santa Cruz14588183
Marin13136197
Yolo12834185
Shasta10985174
Butte10962160
El Dorado9095100
Napa903869
Sutter884597
San Benito576759
Yuba573337
Lassen560119
Tehama508152
Nevada396074
Tuolumne394659
Mendocino379643
Amador346341
Humboldt318033
Lake315641
Glenn222523
Colusa212813
Calaveras190547
Siskiyou174014
Inyo128737
Mono12114
Del Norte9875
Plumas6536
Modoc4524
Mariposa3957
Trinity3675
Sierra990
Alpine810
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