California Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) signed an executive order requiring that every voter in the state receive a mail-in ballot ahead of the November general election, becoming the first governor to enact such a policy citing concerns of spreading coronavirus.
Some key Democrats are pushing for other states to follow suit in expanding vote-by-mail, while President Donald Trump has argued that "mail ballots are dangerous for this country because of cheaters."
What are the details?
Newsom's decree "requires that each county's elections officials send vote-by-mail ballots for the November 3, 2020 general elections to all registered voters" in the interest of public health.
While every voter is encouraged to use the mail-in method, in-person voting will still be accessible in the interest of people who cannot vote by mail such as individuals with certain disabilities or those without a home address.
Secretary of State Alex Padilla praised Newsom's order, saying, "There's no safer, physically distancing, healthier way to exercise your right to vote that from the safety and convenience of your own home," KGO-TV reported.
According to The Washington Examiner, a majority of California voters already cast their ballots by mail. The outlet noted that "in the state's March primary election, 72% of ballots were cast by mail, and 14 counties already mail every voter a ballot for elections."
Prior to the coronavirus pandemic, the states of Colorado, Hawaii, Oregon, Utah, and Washington already had statewide vote-by-mail elections. California is the first state to implement such a system in reaction to the COVID-19 pandemic.
A number of prominent Democrats have pushed for other states across the nation to allow statewide vote-by-mail policies ahead of the 2020 general election.
In reaction to Newsom's announcement, 2016 Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton tweeted, "I hope other governors around the country follow @GavinNewsom's lead. No voter should be forced to choose between their safety and exercising their civic duty this fall."
I hope other governors around the country follow @GavinNewsom’s lead. No voter should be forced to choose between t… https://t.co/3pFkpzuc4k— Hillary Clinton (@Hillary Clinton) 1588972924.0
President Trump has been outspoken in his opposition to expanding vote-by-mail options. Last month, he said, "Mail ballots, they cheat. Mail ballots are very dangerous for this country because of cheaters. They go collect them. They are fraudulent in many cases. They have to vote. They should have voter ID, by the way."
According to Pew Research Center, a new poll conducted by the organization showed "Democrats overwhelmingly favor allowing any voter to vote by mail if they want to (87%), including nearly two-thirds who strongly favor this measure (63%). Republicans are split: 49% support allowing universal voting by mail, 50% oppose this."