Do Californians support mail-in voting? Survey says: Yes - Sacramento Bee

As California inches closer to the November election, new survey results suggest that nearly three-quarters of likely voters support a move to mail-in ballots opposed by President Donald Trump and Republican leaders.

The Public Policy Institute of California’s latest survey, which polled 1,706 adults statewide in late May, shows an “overwhelming majority” support such a policy.

Voters’ views differ by political party, however.

Results show 94 percent of registered Democrats surveyed think the move is a “good idea.” Among Republicans, 58 percent say it’s a “bad idea,” while 37 percent support it.

“I think that the numbers reflect the political polarization that exists on so many issues involving elections and public policy in California,” said Mark Baldassare, who oversees the survey and heads the institute. “My takeaway is that you’re seeing overwhelming support for the concept,” he said.

Gov. Gavin Newsom’s latest executive order, signed Wednesday morning, seeks to guarantee an “accessible, secure, and safe” election come November. All registered Californians would get a chance to vote by mail. Newsom has also ordered a number of polling stations to be open across the state for those who prefer to vote in-person that’s enough to ensure social distancing.

Amid a pandemic, mail-in ballot proponents say the risks of transmission could be great enough to dissuade many voters from heading to the polls. Still, some have expressed frustration over the proposed changes.

Republican leaders like President Donald J. Trump say a universal mail-in ballot system is ripe for fraud and foreign meddling — a claim experts have found little evidence to support. Trump has especially singled out Newsom for his role in mail-in voting.

“The Governor of California is sending Ballots to millions of people, in the state, no matter who they are or how they got there, will get one,” Trump wrote last week. “That will be followed up with professionals telling all of these people, many of whom have never even thought of voting before, how, and for whom, to vote. This will be a Rigged Election. No way!”

Baldassare said Trump’s words could have had a big impact on how right-leaning adults responded to the survey questions. Whether or not they support the proposal, he said, many Republicans “have chosen to take sides with the President.”

“I think it’s that straightforward,” he added.

Lawsuits have cropped up in recent weeks in an attempt to prevent Newsom from acting on his executive orders.

At the Capitol, reinforcement to Newsom’s executive order could soon pass through the state Legislature.

The Senate Committee on Elections and Constitutional Amendments on Tuesday approved a bill that would require county officials to send a ballot to every registered voter. That bill is now headed to the Senate Appropriations Committee.

“Mailing every California voter a ballot, and providing them with the opportunity to vote from the safety of their own home, is essential to ensuring that we can conduct an open, accessible, and safe election this November,” Assemblyman Marc Berman, D-Palo Alto, who wrote the bill, said in a press release.