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Gov. Gavin Newsom signed an executive order on Friday to send every registered voter in the state a mail-in ballot. The order is a response to the potential spread of the coronavirus through in-person voting in the upcoming November election.
“To preserve public health in the face of the threat of COVID-19, and to ensure that the November election is accessible, secure, and safe, all Californians must be empowered to vote by mail from the safety of their own homes,” reads Newsom’s executive order.
According to California Secretary of State Alex Padilla, California is the first state in the country to give all voters a ready alternative to in-person voting.
“It’s great for public health. It’s great for voting rights. It’s going to be great for participation,” Padilla said at the governor’s COVID-19 press conference on Friday. Padilla called November’s election the “most consequential election of our lifetime.”
While all registered voters have the option to vote by mail, the option to vote in-person will still be available as of now.
“It’s not an exclusive substitute for physical locations,” said Newsom, who noted that some voters face barriers to voting by mail and require an in-person option.
“We remain committed to providing as many safe in-person opportunities to vote as possible both on and before election day,” Padilla said.
The executive order calls for a detailed plan on in-person voting locations to be finalized by May 30.
Padilla also pointed out the need for new volunteers to help fill the hole left by the older population who have traditionally worked polling stations.
“We need poll workers. A lot of the election day workforce in years past, all the seniors and retirees who have helped us demonstrate our democracy, are not available,” Padilla said. “We need people who are able, willing and healthy help us out on election day.”
More information on participating in the November election in California can be found on the secretary of state’s website, https://www.sos.ca.gov/elections/.