Gavin Newsom Photographer: Rich Pedroncelli/AP/Bloomberg

THE NEUTRAL ZONE

Three Republican groups, including the Republican National Committee, filed suit against Governor Gavin Newsom (D-CA) on Sunday in response to Newsom’s executive order from earlier this month to use mail-in ballots for all voters in the 2020 election. Gov. Newsom’s order is the largest expansion of vote-by-mail in response to the pandemic.

Alongside the National Republican Congressional Committee and California Republican Party, the RNC claimed Newsom’s order was “an illegal ‘usurpation of the legislature’s authority’ to set the ‘time, place and manner’ of the election.” Ronna McDaniel, RNC Chairwoman, accused Democrats of taking advantage of the coronavirus pandemic to compromise election integrity, likening the move to an “absolute brazen power grab.” On Tuesday, President Donald Trump alleged in several tweets that vote-by-mail would result in a “rigged election.”

Newsom believes he is “on firm legal ground” and within his authority to make such an order, saying “public health is a nonpartisan issue.” He also noted that the state will work to have “the appropriate number of physical sites for people to vote as well.” In a statement, California Secretary of State Alex Padilla said vote-by-mail had been used “safely and effectively in red, blue, and purple states for years” and accused the White House of a political smear campaign against mail-in voting.

The lawsuit in California follows a lawsuit filed in Florida last Thursday by Democratic super PAC Priorities USA and other Democratic-leaning organizations. The lawsuit in Florida seeks to eliminate laws limiting who can collect vote-by-mail ballots to be returned to local election offices, as well as remove state ballot-return deadlines. In a statement, McDaniel alleged that “Democrats never let a crisis go to waste, and they are using a pandemic to completely destroy the integrity of our elections.”

Many states have already emphasized the importance of access to mail-in voting in response to the COVID-19 outbreak. Earlier this month, nearly three-quarters of voters polled said they believed the 2020 election should transition entirely to mail-in ballots, though the results were split down party lines.

MEDIA PERSPECTIVE

Trump blasts California over mail-in voting following Republican lawsuit – The Hill – 5/26/2020
President Trump railed against mail-in voting in California on Tuesday and claimed the general election would be “rigged” if Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) mailed absentee ballots to every voter in the state. Trump, who has increasingly leveled unsubstantiated claims about widespread fraud in mail-in voting, zeroed in on California in a string of tweets Tuesday morning, two days after the Republican National Committee (RNC) sued Newsom over his effort to expand mail-in voting in California during the coronavirus pandemic. 

CA Secretary of State: We Won’t Let Virus Be ‘Exploited’ for Voter Suppression – Breitbart – 5/25/2020
California Secretary of State Alex Padilla (D) responded Sunday evening to Republicans’ lawsuit against the state to block Gov. Gavin Newsom’s (D) recent vote-by-mail order, suggesting the move is a “political smear campaign” by President Donald Trump, designed to use the Chinese coronavirus pandemic for voter suppression. “Expanding vote-by-mail during a pandemic is not a partisan issue — it’s a moral imperative to protect voting rights and public safety. Vote-by-mail has been used safely and effectively in red, blue, and purple states for years,” Padilla wrote on social media.

Trump Isn’t Done With His Tirade Against Mail-In Voting Applications – Talking Points Memo – 5/26/2020
Trump’s latest tirade against mail-in voting initiatives, which was similar to his reaction to Newsom’s executive order announcement earlier this month, comes just days after the Republican National Committee filed a lawsuit against California’s efforts to slow the spread of the novel coronavirus ahead of the general election.

‘Illegal election power grab’: GOP sues Gavin Newsom over vote-by-mail executive order – The Washington Times – 5/26/2020
Republican National Committee Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel announced on Twitter that her organization, the National Republican Congressional Committee and the California Republican Party have filed court papers seeking to block Mr. Newsom’s executive order that would send mail-in ballots to all 20.6 million registered voters. The “radical plan” is an “illegal election power grab” that, Ms. McDaniel also called “a recipe for disaster that would create more opportunities for fraud & destroy the confidence Californians deserve to have in their elections.”

As Trump Attacks California Mail-In Voting, It Isn’t About Fraud —It’s About Fear – Forbes – 5/25/2020
There are also lots of reasons why state governments and voters have favored voting-by-mail. For states, at least one study has shown reforms such as mail-in ballots can reduce the cost of elections by up to 40%. Additionally, voters often find being able to mail their vote increases voter satisfaction, providing individuals more time to research and understand the positions of candidates.

INFLUENCER PERSPECTIVE

Donald J. Trump on Twitter, 5/26/2020: There is NO WAY (ZERO!) that Mail-In Ballots will be anything less than substantially fraudulent. Mail boxes will be robbed, ballots will be forged & even illegally printed out & fraudulently signed. The Governor of California is sending Ballots to millions of people, anyone…..

Barbara Lee @on Twitter, 5/26/2020: Republicans would rather see Americans risk their health and safety than to expand vote-by-mail. This is voter suppression point blank.

Errol Webber For Congress (CA-37) on Twitter, 5/26/2020: In the 2018 election cycle, Californians saw a half-dozen red districts flip to blue AFTER Election Day. Ballot harvesting had a lot to do with it.Coupled with mail-in voting, it leaves the door wide open for #voterfraud. We must secure the integrity of our voting system!

Amy Klobuchar on Twitter, 5/26/2020: Expanding vote by mail options is not a ‘power grab.’ Expanding options to vote is about protecting our democracy to ensure voters can safely cast their ballots during the coronavirus pandemic.

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