As the United States prepares to hold a presidential election in the midst of a deadly pandemic, many states have adjusted how they are holding their elections to minimize in-person contact at the polls, including California.
Gov. Gavin Newsom, a Democrat, issued an order making California a universal mail-in election state, meaning that all active voters will be sent mail-in ballots without needing to request them. Newsom said this would help protect Californians' right to vote amid the pandemic.
"Elections and the right to vote are foundational to our democracy,” he said. “No Californian should be forced to risk their health in order to exercise their right to vote. Mail-in ballots aren’t a perfect solution for every person, and I look forward to our public health experts and the secretary of state’s and the Legislature’s continued partnership to create safer in-person opportunities for Californians who aren’t able to vote by mail."
According to California Secretary of State Alex Padilla, county election boards will begin mailing ballots to voters on Oct. 5. Voters may mail in their ballot if it is postmarked by Nov. 3, Election Day, or turn it in at a drop box, vote center, elections office or polling place by 8 p.m. on Election Day. There is also a website – wheresmyballot.sos.ca.gov – that allows voters to track their ballot's status.
The universal mail-in election does not mean, however, that there aren't in-person voting options. Voters can also vote early with counties opening locations on the Saturday before Election Day or earlier, and polling places will be open on Nov. 3.
Republican groups sued Newsom over the vote-by-mail order in May, as part of a flurry of lawsuits that have been filed by the Republican National Committee and the Trump campaign against states imposing universal mail-in voting systems.
Fox News' Ronn Blitzer contributed to this report.