On Thursday, Assemblyman Marc Berman (D-Menlo Park) announced that an updated bill would automatically give a mail-in ballot to every registered California voter for the 2020 general election.
Assembly Bill 860, being reauthored by Assemblyman Berman, will be similar to the automatic mail balloting system currently in place in Oregon, Washingon state, and Colorado. However, AB 860 was written primarily in response to ensure safe balloting and healthy poll workers for a post coronavirus vote.
“Californians should not have to risk their health – and possibly their lives – in order to exercise their constitutional right to vote in this November’s election,” said Assemblyman Berman in a press release. “The reality is that with the COVID-19 pandemic, we do not know what social distancing guidelines will be in place or whether or not the virus will make a resurgence in the fall. While we hope for the best, we must plan for the worst and avoid the debacle we witnessed in Wisconsin earlier this week. Guaranteeing that every California voter will have the opportunity to fill out their ballot in the safety of their own home is not only the smartest option, it should really be the primary option for how we conduct the General Election.”
Many lawmakers have come out against an expansion of mail-in votes in recent years, often citing voter fraud as their reasoning. While there have been a few notable cases of voter fraud by absentee ballots in recent years, nearly every election has been shown to have secure mail-in votes, including California. California has actually shown itself to be very efficient in voter confirmation, throwing away 1 out of every 100 mail-in vote because of signature rejection.
“Trump and many other politicians go after vote-by-mail voters, with elderly exceptions, because they want to stop fraud,” explained election worker Ryan Serov. “But what they should do is go after the verification process. We have a signature here and we match it with the one on the ballot.”
“You have that figure of 1 in 100, but even seen closer to 1 in 90 here. That’s something they should hammer against if they want to stop this bill. I have never seen voter fraud once. I’ve seen absentee vote waste because of signatures not matching happen very often.”
“And if people stay home because of coronavirus scares still being here in November, then numbers can really climb up.”
If passed, voters would start to receive ballots in the mail in October of 2020. AB 860 will be introduced to the Assembly and placed in committee next month.