Every eligible Los Angeles County voter will receive a ballot in the mail for all elections starting with the November general election, officials announced Tuesday.
The L.A. County Board of Supervisors voted unanimously in favor of the measure Tuesday, as growing concern over safety risks continue to rise amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
“It is hard to imagine that, amid the coronavirus crisis, we have a major election coming up this November,” said Supervisor Janice Hahn, who co-authored the proposal. “No one should have to choose between their health and their right to vote.”
The county has more than 5.5 million registered voters — a number higher than the entire population of more than half of American states.
Although L.A. County’s stay-at-home order is still set to be lifted on May 15, health officials and county leaders have acknowledged that some form of social distancing will still be needed for an extended period of time. Such measures may hinder the recruitment of election workers or make in-person voting difficult, official said.
“We don’t know what challenges we will be facing in this pandemic this fall, but by sending every voter a mail-in-ballot we can ensure that everyone can cast their ballot safely, no matter what the future holds,” Hahn said in a statement.
Fear over the coronavirus pandemic has increased national concern over whether the Nov. 3 presidential election can be held safely, with calls to expand access to voting by mail. Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden said on Thursday that he believes President Donald Trump will try to delay the presidential election.
Biden himself said that Congress needs to guarantee that states have sufficient funding to expand voting options.
Wisconsin was the latest state to face the issue as its presidential primary came amid the pandemic in early April. Democrats urged the use of mail-in ballots but after a 5-4 U.S. Supreme Court decision, Republicans ultimately succeeded in their push to proceed with in-person voting.
Polling places were limited and lines long, with some Wisconsin voters complaining they were risking their lives to exercise their right to cast a ballot.
Ohio is holding its primary Tuesday, and moved to conduct most voting by mail. The state moved last month to delay its primary, which was scheduled for March 17.
Meanwhile, on Tuesday, New York canceled its 2020 Democratic presidential primary election because of the pandemic. Congressional and state-level primaries are still slated for June 23.
Democrats in Congress asked for billions of dollars to expand the use of absentee voting ballots in the $2 trillion stimulus package in late March, but got just $400 million. Many Republicans, including Trump, are resisting calls to expand mail-in and absentee ballots, with the idea that it could be bad for the party.
In a “Fox & Friends” interview on March 30, the president said, “If you ever agreed to it, you’d never have a Republican elected in this country again.”