Mail-in ballots could become a permanent fixture in our electoral system.
Amid this year’s global pandemic, officials were faced with coming up with safe ways for citizens to vote in this year’s presidential election. In May the governor signed an executive order ensuring that every registered voter in the state would be sent a mail-in ballot before election day, with the option to vote in-person at polling stations with strict Covid measures. It was the first state in the nation to put a vote-by-mail plan into place.
CA is now a vote by mail state.
Every registered voter will receive a mail-in ballot for the Nov election.
We’ll also provide safe in-person voting options.
The right to vote is foundational to our democracy. No one should be forced to risk their health to exercise that right.
— Gavin Newsom (@GavinNewsom) May 8, 2020
While the presidential race is not yet over, this election season has already seen record numbers in voter turnout across the board. Many of those votes were cast via mail-in ballots, in addition to countless more from an extended early in-person voting period. Before a single person arrived at the polls on Tuesday, San Diego County had already accounted for over 1.1 million votes. Similar records were seen in cities all across the nation.
Seeing the success it has had and the increased voter turnout, Governor Newsome has now expressed his support of continuing the mail-in option for future elections. In an interview with NBC7 on Tuesday, Newsom said he thinks it should become permanent and available nationwide. “Making voting easier, providing more choice, more opportunity, I think is fabulous,” he said.
Other officials seem to also be in favor of setting up a permanent mail-in system. Representative Jackie Speier of California’s 14th Congressional District told reporters that a permanent mail-in ballot system would make voting more accessible everywhere.
Harmeet Dhillon, the Republican National Committeewoman for California, has major concerns about the system currently in place, but said that a mail-in system could work in the future, provided there are serious improvements. “Having a vote-by-mail system that has effective security around it and has training and has some years of time for the state to implement it, and the state has a zero-tolerance policy for people being on the rolls who should not be there, I think that could work,” she told NBC7.
There are certainly some kinks to work out before any system is put in place. But if this election is any indication of how much it could help increase participation in the electoral process, the record voter turnout numbers we’ve seen this week could become the new norm.
[Featured image: Tiffany Tertipes via Unsplash]