Registered voters in California will be asked to vote by mail in November in order to protect public health due to the coronavirus pandemic, Gov. Gavin Newsom announced Friday.
The governor signed an executive order that requires each county’s election officials to send vote-by-mail ballots for the Nov. 3 General Election to all registered voters. The directive marks California as the first state in the U.S. to establish a statewide vote-by-mail plan for the general election.
“Elections and the right to vote are foundational to our democracy,” said Newsom. “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.”
Those who may need access to in-person voting opportunities, such as individuals with disabilities, persons who speak languages other than English or those who are experiencing homelessness, will have access. Newsom said he may issue another executive order if in-person voting options and other details are not available by May 30.
“There’s a lot of excitement around this November’s election in terms of making sure that you can conduct yourself in a safe way and make sure your health is protected,” said Newsom.
Newsom’s move comes after the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors decided in late April that all county voters would be sent vote-by-mail ballots for all elections, including the Nov. 3 general election, as a result of the same coronavirus-related concerns.
The May 12 special election for the 25th Congressional District will also be conducted with mail-in-ballot voting and with vote centers set up for voters and poll workers to practice safety guidelines.
Officials said their decision is due to still much uncertainty in the months ahead.