SACRAMENTO, Calif. — July 10, 2020. Two months after Gov. Gavin Newsom issued an executive order providing a vote-by-mail ballot for every registered voter in California’s November 2020 election, and mere weeks after the California Legislature passed AB 860 to mandate the same, former California Rep. Darrell Issa and the Republican National Committee have dropped their lawsuits trying to block the Governor’s executive order and prevent California voters from voting safely during a global pandemic.
California Common Cause, The League of Women Voters of California and Community Coalition applaud the decision. The three organizations submitted an amicus brief to the court supporting the Governor’s May 8 executive order mandating mail ballots be sent to all registered California voters. The two lawsuits, Republican National Committee v. Newsom and Darrell Issa v. Newsom had challenged the Governor’s authority to issue an executive order for elections and made baseless attacks on the credibility of voting by mail.
Yesterday, Issa and the RNC’s legal teams voluntarily dismissed their lawsuits against the Governor’s executive order, admitting the enactment of AB 860 made their cases moot. The fight over a mail-in election is over in California, but it rages nationally.
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 Secretaries of State around the nation have expanded access to vote-by-mail in 2020.
Jonathan Mehta Stein, Executive Director, California Common Cause
“The lawsuits against California’s executive order to send every voter a VBM ballot in November 2020 were never going to succeed. They were an attempt to undermine voter confidence and interfere with elections in California, where we work hard to expand access while also maintaining ballot security.”
Stephanie Doute, Executive Director, League of Women Voters of California.
“These dropped lawsuits are a victory for California voters, whose access to mail-in ballots must be ensured during this pandemic. The League was proud to stand with fellow voting rights organizations to defend voters’ voices when political games threatened their health and their rights.”
Hector Sanchez, Deputy Political Director, Community Coalition
“The RNC’s decision to drop its lawsuit helps ensure that our voices will be heard through our vote. Black and Brown voting rights are under attack nationwide. With so much on the line locally and nationally for communities of color, we are committed to battling voter suppression in all its forms. From the lack of voting center locations to this lawsuit that sought to deny citizens the right to vote by mail, Community Coalition remains vigilant and ready to take action.”
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 were represented in their amicus brief by Public Counsel, Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, and Manatt, Phelps & Phillips, LLP.
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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 (CoCo) 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, please visit http://cocosouthla.org/.