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All Californians to vote by mail under Gov. Newsom order, majority of SLO Co. residents already do it

Posted at 11:50 AM, Jun 04, 2020

Gov. Newsom's effort to move California's November election to vote by mail received another round of support this week.

The governor issued an executive order last month directing county's to send mail-in ballots to all registered voters due to concerns about the coronavirus.

Voters in San Luis Obispo and Santa Barbara Counties already have the option to cast a ballot by mail.

But under Gov. Newsom's May executive order, all state residents would receive a mail-in ballot for November's election whether they requested one or not.

The order also requires county's to provide one in-person polling station per 10,000 residents.

It's an effort to reduce gatherings at polling stations, where COVID-19 could spread.

"Many other states across this country have been using absentee ballots, people - servicemen and women overseas are using absentee ballots in a secure, safe and honorable manner," Gov. Newsom said at a recent press conference. "It's doesn't skew Democrat or Republican, we're just focusing on public health."

But Pres. Trump is attacking the initiative, saying it opens the door to voter fraud.

SLO County Clerk and Recorder Tommy Gong said states without an existing system could face challenges but he's confident California, which has a well-established vote by mail system would maintain its voting integrity.

"The last March election, we sent out to 80 percent of our voters a ballot in the mail," Gong said. "So to bridge that gap for the additional 20 percent is certainly doable in our county and for our vendor. I've already been in communication with them about the additional number of ballots we'd be sending out and they have the capacity for doing that for us."

Gong said his office is already working on arranging new polling locations in larger settings that allow for social distancing.

The California Senate Elections and Constitutional Amendments Committee voted Tuesday in favor of Assembly Bill 860, which mirrors the governor's order.

Passage in the state Assembly and Senate would put the legislature's imprint on the governor's order.

The governor's order is facing two federal lawsuits, including one from the Republican National Committee, alleging the order goes against the U.S. Consitution.