SACRAMENTO – The California State Legislature has approved Assembly Bill 860, authored by Assemblymember Marc Berman (D-Menlo Park), which would require county elections officials to mail active registered voters a ballot for the General Election this November. The bill cleared its final hurdle in the Legislature today, passing out of the Assembly with overwhelming bipartisan support. AB 860 now awaits Governor Gavin Newsom’s signature.
“No one should have to risk their health – and possibly their life – to exercise their constitutional right to vote,” said Assemblymember Marc Berman. “In the midst of a deadly health pandemic, giving all California voters the opportunity to vote from the safety of their own home is the responsible thing to do. I am grateful that so many of my colleagues from both sides of the aisle agree, and I look forward to Governor Newsom signing AB 860. This bill gives voters the peace of mind to know that they can safely participate in their democracy, and allows our elections officials to continue making the necessary arrangements for the general election.”
Approximately 78% of California’s active registered voters received a ballot in the mail before the March Primary Election this year. Since California held that election, at least 16 states either postponed their scheduled primary elections or switched them to vote by mail elections due to concerns that conducting in-person voting during the spread of COVID-19 threatens the health and safety of voters, election workers, and the public generally. In anticipation of heightened interest in voting by mail, AB 860 (Berman) proactively ensures that active registered voters in California will receive a ballot in the mail.
Importantly, in-person voting opportunities would remain available for voters in a manner that protects the health and safety of voters and election workers. Senate Bill 423 by Senator Tom Umberg (D-Orange County), would require county elections officials to establish and maintain a minimum number of polling places and vote centers for the statewide general election on November 3, 2020. SB 423 was introduced in May as a part of a legislative package with AB 860 to protect both public health and voting rights amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
Last week, Sutter County Superior Court Judge Perry Parker issued a temporary restraining order blocking Governor Newsom’s recent executive order that requires active California voters to be mailed vote-by-mail ballots for the November General Election and requires counties to make available a minimum number of polling places for voters to vote in person. Yesterday, the Third District Court of Appeals put a stay on the Superior Court’s temporary restraining order.
The passage of AB 860 will provide much needed clarity for elections officials and California voters about the conduct of this November’s Presidential General Election.
Contact: Kaitlin Curry, (916) 319-2024