California Shifts to Mail-In Voting

Every single voter in the state of California will receive a mail-in ballot ahead of the November election. The executive order, issued by Governor Gavin Newsom on Friday, makes California the first state in the country to approve universal vote by mail in response to the coronavirus pandemic. For those who do visit polling places, extra precautions will be taken to ensure safety.

California hopes to prevent a public health nightmare, similar to what took place in Wisconsin last month. After the Wisconsin Supreme Court struck down a last-minute executive order to push in-person voting back until June, the state’s election went on as scheduled. At least 67 people contracted the virus after voting or working the polls. Local election officials are now gearing up for the public information campaign of a lifetime.

Fourteen counties already mail ballots to every registered voter. Los Angeles was already preparing to do so as a result of problems at its new voting centers on March 3.

While most advocacy groups are happy to see mail-in voting options for every voter, they acknowledge that a decrease in in-person voting raises its own set of unique questions—not least of which is how the effort will be paid for. From ensuring equal access to flexible standards that promote public health, state and county officials have a lot to discuss in the coming months.

Read more about the shift to mail-in voting and some of the questions it raises here.