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California becomes 8th U.S. state to make universal mail-in ballots permanent By Reuters


© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: An Uncle Sam bobblehead doll appears to watch workers sorting ballots at the Sacramento Registrar of Voters as California goes to the polls in a gubernatorial recall election allowing the voting public to remove current governor Gavin Newsom a

By Steve Gorman

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) – California on Monday became the eighth, and by far the largest, U.S. state to make universal distribution of vote-by-mail ballots permanent, a practice that became more widespread during the COVID-19-plagued 2020 election cycle.

Gavin Newsom, the governor of California signed the bill requiring that mail-in votes be regularly sent out to each active voter as part of an overall package of bills to enhance the state’s electoral system.

Its enactment in one of the nation’s most heavily Democratic states, and the most populous, contrasted sharply with a wave of new voting requirements and limits passed this year by Republican-controlled legislatures in Texas and the battleground states of Georgia, Florida and Arizona.

Republicans supporting such restrictions have pointed to the necessity for stricter election security, in order not to allow fraud which Trump claims has cost him the election. Trump and his party falsely claimed that mail-in ballots were vulnerable to manipulation.

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Democrats and Republicans have countered these claims. They claim that the ballots can be sent by post or collected at drop-box collection points, which only increases voter participation.

Marc Berman from California, the chief author of the voter-by-mail legislation, stated that “when voters receive a mail ballot, they vote.” This was evident in 2020, which saw the largest voter turnout ever since Harry Truman’s presidency.

Californian voters still have the right to cast their ballots at any polling station on Election Day.

California, along with Nevada and Vermont, was among four states to adopt universal mail-in voting as an option to in-person voter registration in 2020. This move was made in response to COVID-19.

California, like Utah, had allowed mail-in voter pre-pandemic. However it expanded the practice to all citizens in 2020. This practice was temporarily extended to all states through the 2021 election, which included the most recent recall election for governors.

According to RepresentUs an advocacy group for election reform, Newsom’s Monday signing made California, along with Oregon and Washington, Colorado, and Hawaii, eighth states to be able to permanently make this arrangement.

According to RepresentUs, Utah is one of a few states in which Republican-majority legislatures passed legislation making voting easier.

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