Gov. Gavin Newsom gave California counties permission on Wednesday to limit their in-person voting operations for the Nov. 3 election as protection against the spread of the coronavirus — but only if they also offer three days of early voting, a tradeoff some local officials said could be expensive and challenging.
The decision, detailed in an executive order, comes almost one month after Newsom instructed California counties to mail all of the state’s 20.6 million voters an absentee ballot for the upcoming election. In doing so, he noted that voting locations would still be provided, primarily for voters with disabilities and those seeking assistance in a language other than English.
But Newsom’s earlier executive order, issued May 8, was silent on rules governing where and when to set up voting sites, leaving elections officials in limbo on plans for the upcoming presidential election. The cost to implement new guidelines could be substantial, exceeding the federal dollars already earmarked for election assistance during the pandemic and further straining county government budgets stretched thin by public health and safety spending.
Newsom’s order offers no information as to whether additional state funds will be set aside, though elections funding could be boosted in the state budget the Legislature must send to his desk by June 15.
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