Local election officials prepare as state requires mail-in ballots be sent to all registered voters

Presidential Election 2020

SAN DIEGO – As Gov. Gavin Newsom signed into law Thursday a bill requiring all registered California voters receive mail-in ballots this fall, county officials already are preparing for what’s shaping up to be an unprecedented election.

“When it comes to COVID-19 and the pandemic, I think we are in uncharted territory,” said Michael Vu, San Diego County Registrar of Voters.

In the county, some 1.8 million voters are scheduled to receive a mail-in ballot this year, according to the California Secretary of State’s Office. Voting by mail already was possible in the state in previous elections, but Newsom said in May the order serves as an additional resource for residents amid concerns about safely voting due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

But not everyone is happy about it. President Trump has been a vocal opponent of mail-in voting, tweeting in May that, “There is NO WAY (ZERO!) that Mail-In Ballots will be anything less than substantially fraudulent,” and that Newsom is sending ballots to millions of state residents “no matter who they are or how they got there.”

Trump’s tweet drew a rare fact check from Twitter, which labeled the president’s tweet as having shared an “unsubstantiated claim” that mail-in ballots lead to voter fraud.

Former Rep. Darrell Issa, a Republican who again is running to represent the state’s 50th Congressional District, initially sued Newsom to stop the Democratic governor from pushing out mail-in ballots to the masses, but since has shifted his focus from blocking it.

“I certainly think that if we clean up the voter rolls and if everyone knows a ballot is coming to an address where they are, the system could be made to work,” Issa said.

Now Issa is pushing election officials to check in on voters who haven’t participated in elections in the past five years.

“They haven’t shown a willingness to vote and yet they’re still on the rolls,” he said.

But Vu said the mail-in ballots change little about how officials are preparing for the election.

“There’s nothing new in terms of our posture,” he said, “because we have learned and there’s experience as well as laws in place to ensure we are protecting the voter registration rolls, but in a way that is systematic, is fair and is transparent.”

The 2020 election is scheduled for Nov. 3. More information about the election and to find information about registering to vote is available online at sos.ca.gov/elections.

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