President Donald Trump’s re-election campaign blasted California Gov. Gavin Newsom’s (D-CA) executive order allowing registered voters in the state to vote by mail in the November election, calling it a “thinly-veiled political tactic” aimed at undermining election security.
Trump campaign communications director Tim Murtaugh said in a statement to CNN:
This is a thinly-veiled political tactic by Gov. Newsom to undermine election security. There’s a vast difference between people voting absentee by mail because they can’t be at the poll on Election Day versus mailing everyone a ballot – even those who didn’t request one – is a wide open opportunity for fraud.
California has a bad record on ensuring that people on the voter rolls still live at the same address, still reside in California, or are even still alive. Everyone is concerned about the safety of voters, but jeopardizing election security is the wrong way to go about it.
JUST IN: the @realDonaldTrump campaign has responded to this news out of California.. Spox @TimMurtaugh tells @CNN said this move will “undermine election security”.
via @DJJudd https://t.co/jSHczb9fei pic.twitter.com/fk3HHjQhSS
— Ryan Nobles (@ryanobles) May 8, 2020
Earlier Friday, Newsom approved voting by mail, citing health concerns stemming from the Chinese coronavirus pandemic.
“I signed an executive order that will allow every registered voter in California to receive a mail-in ballot,” Newsom said in a press conference. “That mail-in ballot is important, but it’s not an exclusive substitute to physical locations.”
“People that are otherwise not familiar with mail-in ballots, are uncomfortable with them, may have disabilities, may have other issues that may preclude that as an appropriate option, we still want to have the appropriate number of physical sites for people to vote as well,” added the governor.
NEW: Gov. Gavin Newsom signs executive order allowing “every registered voter in the state of California to receive a mail-in ballot.”
— ABC News (@ABC) May 8, 2020
Newsom then stated that while providing voters the mail-in ballot, he is committed to securing the ability to vote at a physical location on election day:
There’s a lot of concern and excitement around this November’s election in terms of making sure that you can conduct yourself in a safe way and to make sure your health is protected and to make sure we are reaching out to all registered, eligible voters. And giving them the opportunity, giving them the choice not to feel like they have to go into a concentrated, dense environment where their health may be at risk but provide an additional asset and additional resources by way of voting by mail.
Recent data has not shown a compelling public health justification for vote-by-mail. Wisconsin is one of the only U.S. states that held its primary election with in-person voting after the coronavirus lockdown began. Only a few dozen people at maximum were confirmed to have contracted the virus after participating either as voters or poll workers, and none of those cases were fatal. Out of the 413,000 participants, that equals an infection rate below two-hundredths of one percent. Just days later, South Korea held national elections which did not result in any new coronavirus cases.
Nonetheless, Democrats nationwide have pushed vigorously to allow voters to vote by mail in the presidential election and in future races.
In a Wednesday op-ed for The Hill, Reps. Joe Kennedy III (D-MA) and Mark Pocan (D-WI) wrote the time had come to secure vote-by-mail beyond 2020.
“If we don’t act fast, we will jeopardize participation in what may be the most important election of our lifetime. People will stay home. Disproportionately, those people will be of color, who live in neighborhoods most likely to lose polling locations,” the congressmen wrote. “They’ll be students, single parents, and low-wage workers, who can’t put their lives on hold to go vote. They’ll be seniors and medically-vulnerable patients, who would be literally risking their lives just to cast their ballots. So a privileged few will get to decide our country’s trajectory while the people most impacted by this crisis are forced to forfeit their voice.”
In late April, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) said that the next coronavirus relief bill should have vote-by-mail measures and address state requirements for the measure.
“There are a lot of things we should have in it. … One, we’ve got to make our — make sure our elections in November are fair and safe and free. A lot of people won’t want to go to the polls. We ought to have mail ballots for everyone, but we ought to allow people who want to go to the polls to be there,” Schumer told CBS’ Late Show. “And we ought to make sure some of these barriers — you know, the state of Alabama, as I understand it, to vote by mail — by absentee mail, you need a notary public to certify. Why is that done? To prevent minorities and poor people from voting. So, we should do that.”