Voting rights groups file amicus letter supporting governor’s vote-by-mail order

California Common Cause, The League of Women Voters of California and Community Coalition filed an amicus brief Tuesday, July 9 supporting California Governor Gavin Newsom’s executive order requiring vote-by-mail ballots to be automatically sent to all registered California voters for the November general election. Two lawsuits — Republican National Committee v. Newsom and Darrell Issa v. Newsom — challenge the governor’s authority to issue an executive order for elections.

Vote-by-mail has been available to California voters for 20 years and polling shows that it enjoys broad support from across the political aisle in California. Nationwide, 25 percent of Americans already vote by mail. Just this year, at least 16 states have postponed elections or moved to conduct them by mail to ensure voters can cast ballots from the safety of their homes amid the pandemic. Both Republican and Democratic politicians alike have expanded access to vote-by-mail in 2020.

Jonathan Mehta Stein, executive director at California Common Cause

“Given that the state legislature has passed a law codifying the governor’s executive order and the lawsuits are now obviously moot, plaintiffs are only continuing them to interfere with California’s elections and to sow confusion among our voters. These lawsuits were based on the flimsiest of claims to begin with. Now they have no basis at all.”

Stephanie Doute, executive director of the League of Women Voters of California, said “As our leaders wage a political fight around mail-in ballots, the league knew we needed to step in to protect voters’ rights and bring their voice to the table. Right now, voters — especially those in high-risk categories — are weighing how to keep themselves safe while they exercise their right to vote. These same voters are the ones who traditionally struggle with fair ballot access. We cannot allow political games to drown out the voter’s perspective. Voters must be the priority as we head into another important election.”

Hector Sanchez, deputy political director for Community Coalition in South Los Angeles said, “We have seen what happened in Kentucky. Sending a vote-by-mail ballot to every voter demonstrates that California is committed to making sure black and brown people participate in our democracy.”

Due to the threat of the COVID-19 pandemic, voters are seeking to cast their ballots by mail at highly increased rates. Older voters, voters with disabilities, voters with pre-existing conditions and black and Latino voters are at higher risk of serious illness. These groups could be especially harmed without access to a safe, reliable mail-in voting option in November. Additionally, language minority voters and voters of color experience disproportionate obstacles in the ballot application process. These voters are protected from this risk when ballots are sent automatically.

The three voting rights advocacy groups are represented by Public Counsel, Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, and Manatt, Phelps & Phillips, LLP.

California Common Cause is a nonpartisan advocacy organization working to build a California democracy that includes everyone.

The League of Women Voters of California, a nonpartisan political organization, encourages informed and active participation in government, works to increase understanding of major public policy issues, and influences public policy through education and advocacy. Membership in the League is open to people of all ages and gender identities. With 100 years of experience, the League is one of America’s most trusted grassroots organizations.

For the past 30 years, Community Coalition has brought the community of South LA together to build leadership, launch action campaigns, and create a unified voice for its residents. By working to transform the social and economic conditions that foster inequity, CoCo aims to empower everyday residents to influence and change public policy. For more information, visit cocosouthla.org/.

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