Every registered voter in California will receive a vote-by-mail ballot for the November election after Gov. Gavin Newsom signed an executive order on Friday.
The order requires that each county’s elections officials send vote-by-mail ballots for the Nov. 3 general election to all registered voters.
Californians who may need access to in-person voting opportunities – including individuals with disabilities, individuals who speak languages other than English, individuals experiencing homelessness, and others – will still be able to access in-person voting opportunities.
“Elections and the right to vote are foundational to our democracy,” Newsom said. “No Californian should be forced to risk their health in order to exercise their right to vote. Mail-in ballots aren’t a perfect solution for every person, and I look forward to our public health experts and the Secretary of State’s and the Legislature’s continued partnership to create safer in-person opportunities for Californians who aren’t able to vote by mail.”
Santa Cruz County Clerk Gail Pellerin said that nearly 70% of the county’s 166,000 registered voters are signed up to vote by mail.
“We are already set up to do this,” Pellerin said. “It’s not that big of a stretch for us.”
County officials are still hammering out how the system will work. Pellerin is considering establishing drop-off sites throughout the county.
Voter services centers will allow residents to pick up new ballots if they do not receive theirs, vote in languages besides English and register and vote on the same day.
Newsom said his administration will continue to work with the state legislature and the Secretary of State to determine how requirements for in-person voting opportunities and other details of the November election will be implemented.
Newsom said his order might have to be modified if counties do not have the details worked out for how they will implement the order by May 30.
“California will not force voters to choose between protecting their health and exercising their right to vote,” said Secretary of State Alex Padilla.“I thank Governor Newsom for taking decisive action now, to preserve voting rights and provide sufficient time to properly prepare for the General Election.”