By Arturo Castañares
Governor Gavin Newson has ordered all 58 county registrars of voters in California to send absentee ballots to all registered voters to ease concerns about whether it will be safe to vote in person during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The move comes as voters have expressed concerns in planning to vote in November while the state is still under a mandatory stay-at-home order with no specific date when it may be withdrawn.
Currently, only voters that have requested absentee ballot can vote by mail although the San Diego County Registrar of Voters reports that over 73% of registered voters already request mail-in ballots. Nearly 1.3 million voters of the County’s 1.7 million registered voters are absentee voters, and in November 2018, more than 800,000 voted by mail.
The County Registrar of Voters still plans to provide in-person voting but no decision has been made yet as to how many locations will be available. Newson asked county election and health officials to “create safer in-person opportunities for Californians who aren’t able to vote by mail.”
Many candidates have expressed concerns that voting at the polls in November could be difficult and cause many voters to avoid casting their votes. During Wisconsin presidential primary in April, thousands of voters waiting in lines for up to 8 hours at polling places due to social distancing requirements that made voting very slow. Thousands of voters admitted they skipped the election because of health concerns.
President Donald Trump has raised concerns that mail-in voting, claiming that “a lot of people cheat with mail-in voting” but there are no reports of any wide-spread election fraud connected with mail-in ballots.
Trump raised similar issues when he claimed that more than 3 million undocumented immigrants cast votes in the 2016 election after it was reported that Hillary Clinton received 2.9 million more votes for President than he did, although he won the electoral college vote. There are no confirmed reports of wide-spread vote fraud among undocumented immigrants.