UPDATED 8:11 AM PT — Monday, May 25, 2020
The Republican Party is suing California Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) over his recent executive order, which calls to send every registered voter in the state a ballot by mail ahead of the November elections.
The lawsuit was filed Sunday by the Republican National Committee, the National Republican Congressional Committee and California’s Republican Party.
The groups allege Newsom issued the directive with the intent to rewrite the entire election code for the 2020 election and in doing so, deprive Californians of their constitutional right to vote by making fraudulent voting inevitable.
Specifically, the order requires county officials to send vote-by-mail ballots to every registered voter in the state, effectively also including inactive voters in response to the potential health risks associated with the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.
“An election is in front of us, and there’s a lot of concern and anxiety around this November’s election in terms of making sure you can conduct yourself in a safe way,” stated Gov. Newsom. “…provide an additional asset and additional resources by way of voting by mail.”
However, GOP officials argue the order is less about protecting the health of Californians and is more about protecting the prospects of the governor’s political party.
The lawsuit also labels the move as an illegal power grab, which was not authorized by state law and violates both the Elections Clause and Electors Clause of the U.S. Constitution.
This comes as Republicans have continued to raise concerns that these types of ballots are highly prone to fraud as they could essentially be intercepted by just about anyone and submitted by a third party who isn’t the intended recipient.
“Voting by mail is done outside the supervision of election officials, so that means they can’t monitor it, they can’t prevent intimidation and pressure on voters, and there’s almost no check on the system,” said Hans Von Spakovsky, senior legal fellow at the Heritage Foundation.
In a statement, RNC chairwoman Ronna McDaniel suggested the order was another way Democrats are using the pandemic as a ploy to implement their own partisan agenda. She said the directive is a recipe for disaster that will “destroy the confidence Californians deserve to have in their elections.”
Only a few states have all-mail elections, and none of them send millions of ballots to “inactive” voters like Newsom is demanding.
In Washington, it took 5 years to transition to mail-in ballots. Their SOS recently said “you can’t just flip a switch” like Newsom wants, either.
— Ronna McDaniel (@GOPChairwoman) May 24, 2020
Through the suit, Republicans are seeking an injunction against the order’s enforcement and a declaratory judgement from the court deeming the order unlawful.