California Gov. Gavin Newsom signed a law on Monday making the automatic vote-by-mail process a permanent one.
During the 2020 presidential elections, California mailed ballots to every registered voter — an executive order that was meant to allow voters to cast their ballots from home, at a time when Californians were asked to shelter-in-place due to the COVID-19 pandemic, according to Newsom.
The order extended to 2021 and was incorporated during the gubernatorial recall election.
“As states across our country continue to enact undemocratic voter suppression laws, California is increasing voter access, expanding voting options and bolstering elections integrity and transparency,” Gov. Newsom said Monday. “Last year we took unprecedented steps to ensure all voters had the opportunity to cast a ballot during the pandemic and today we are making those measures permanent after record-breaking participation in the 2020 presidential election.”
While Californians were allowed to vote by mail before the pandemic measures, voters were required to request the ballot beforehand. The new law will automatically send ballots out to all registered voters in future elections.
“The bill will permanently expand access and increase participation in our elections by making voting more convenient and meeting people where they are,” Secretary of State Dr. Shirley Weber said. “Vote-by-mail has significantly increased participation of eligible voters.”
Now the practice will be permanent, with ballots being automatically mailed to registered voters 29 days before an election, and voters will be given the option to cast them by mail, or at official election drop boxes up until the election day deadline.
California now joins Colorado, Hawaii, Nevada, Oregon, Utah, Vermont and Washington as states where ballots are automatically mailed to voters by default.