California Makes Mail-In Voting Law



Until recently, only a handful of states have automatic mail-in ballot systems. Oregon, Washington, Hawaii, Utah, Colorado, and Nevada, and DC use the system, and Vermont does, too, in general elections. California is the newest member of the club, since Gov. Gavin Newsom signed a bill Monday making California’s pandemic experiment with all-mail voting permanent. Every voter will be mailed a ballot, the Los Angeles Times reports. The next statewide election the law applies to will be in June. The law, AB 37, is expected to make voting more accessible and thus improve turnout, but it could also nudge up the cost of elections, since postage is prepaid. “As other states actively look for ways to make it harder for people to vote, California is expanding access to an already safe and secure ballot,” Assemblymember Marc Berman, who wrote the law, said in a statement.

Voters who still want to cast ballots in person will be able to, the East Bay Times reports. But voter turnout in the 2020 election, done mostly by mail, approached 70% in California, the Hill reports. The law answers a Republican complaint about mail-in voting and doesn’t allow ballots to be mailed to people on the state’s inactive voter list. People can be put on a list of inactive voters if they miss two consecutive federal elections. Other bills signed Monday include a requirement for moving electioneering activity farther from polling places and stiffer penalties for using campaign funds for personal expenses. (Read more California stories.)

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