County officials are now required to mail a ballot to every California registered voter ahead of the November general election under a bill Gov. Gavin Newsom signed Thursday.
Assembly Bill 860, authored by Assemblyman Marc Berman, D-Menlo Park, and state Sen. Tom Umberg, D-Santa Ana, also requires that every county’s election officials adopt a vote-by-mail ballot tracking system and that they begin processing ballots 29 days before Election Day. Under current law, processing can start 10 days before an election.
Voters will have a chance to track the status of their ballot by text, voice call or email or by visiting wheresmyballot.sos.ca.gov.
The bill comes after Newsom announced in early May that the state would send vote-by-mail ballots for the fall contest due to health risks amid the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. That effort was challenged in court, however.
“California is moving in a swift, bipartisan manner to fortify our democracy in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic,” Secretary of State Alex Padilla said. “Expanding vote-by-mail statewide is a necessity to protect our right to vote and our public health. Voting by mail has worked safely and securely in California for decades. Mailing every voter a ballot for this election is simply common sense.”
AB 860 received a yes vote from all four elected officials whose districts include the Santa Clarita Valley.
In-person voting will still remain available for those who prefer or might need it.