With the new coronavirus continuing to pose a health risk to the public, Gov. Gavin Newsom announced Friday that he has signed an executive order that will allow every registered voter in California to get a mail-in ballot for the upcoming general election.
With it, California has become the first state in the U.S. to respond to the COVID-19 crisis by taking such swift action to make voting by mail more accessible, California Secretary of State Alex Padilla said.
The order is geared toward ensuring eligible voters can exercise their right to cast a ballot while prioritizing their safety for the Nov. 3 election, without feeling like they have to jeopardize their health, according to the governor.
“There’s a lot of concern and anxiety around this November’s election in terms of making sure you can conduct yourself in a safe way and to make sure your health is protected,” he said.
While the order requires election officials in all 58 counties to send mail-in ballots to registered voters, Newsom emphasized that the action is not an “exclusive substitute” to physical polling places.
The election will not, then, be conducted entirely by mail like other states, including Oregon and Washington.
In fact, the state will work to set up at an appropriate amount of polling sites for those who want the opportunity to vote in person, the governor said.
Newsom’s administration has been working on the issue with legislative leaders as well as Padilla, who applauded the move in remarks at the governor’s daily coronavirus briefing Friday.
“There’s no safer, physically distancing, healthier way to exercise your right to vote that from the safety and convenience of your own home,” Padilla said. “It’s great for public health, it’s great for voting rights, it’s going to be great for participation.”
Padilla urged voters to check their status and make sure their registration information is up to date by going to the secretary of state’s website.