SACRAMENTO, Calif. (KTXL) — California is one step closer to sending ballots to all registered voters for the November election, an effort Gov. Gavin Newsom announced amid the coronavirus pandemic.
But the governor’s power to change some of the system is in question and facing some legal challenges.
The Legislature’s effort to allow all registered voters in California to vote by mail cleared one of its final hurdles Tuesday.
The Assembly Elections and Redistricting Committee passed a finalized version of the proposal unanimously, sending it to the Assembly for a floor vote this week.
“No one should have to risk their health and possibly their life to exercise their constitutional right to vote,” said Assemblyman Marc Berman, D-Palo Alto.
The bill is a fine-tuned version of the governor’s executive order in response to the pandemic. Newsom has directed all voters to receive mail-in ballots and recently issued an order to set new rules for in-person polls.
Two Republican lawmakers sued over the governor’s latest order, which sets how many in-person voting options county elections officials should provide.
The two Assembly members Tuesday said he had overstepped his boundaries by trying to change state law without legislative and public input.
“This is actually a dangerous thing because when the governor is making sweeping new laws that cover all facets of California life under a false justification of addressing the emergency, I think it weakens public trust for actions that may be necessary to address COVID-19 or other public health threats in the future,” said Assemblyman Kevin Kiley, R-Rocklin.
Democrats also brought up the concern in Tuesday’s hearing.
“It helps to ensure that we have a democratic process, that individuals have debate, have conversation,” said Assemblyman Evan Low, D-Campbell.
A judge Friday put a temporary hold on Newsom’s order and barred him from making executive orders that change state laws for two weeks.
The governor’s office filed a petition in appellate court Monday to get it overturned.
Newsom’s office has said the state will continue advancing efforts to make sure Californians can exercise their right to vote in a safe and accessible manner. He’ll likely need the Legislature to make it happen.