East County News Service
September 28, 2021 (Sacrament) -- Governor Gavin Newsom signed a package of legislation yesterday to increase voter access and strengthen integrity in elections, including a bill to send all registered voters a vote-by-mail ballot. Voters will have options to mail-in ballots, drop off ballots at designated locations, or still vote at polling places if they prefer.
Among other measures, the Governor signed AB 37 by Assemblymember Marc Berman (D-Menlo Park), permanently requiring a vote-by-mail ballot be sent to every active registered voter in the state. The practice of sending vote-by-mail ballots to every registered voter began in 2020 to allow safe voting during the pandemic and was extended through 2021. The measure resulted in record voter participation.
“As states across our country continue to enact undemocratic voter suppression laws, California is increasing voter access, expanding voting options and bolstering elections integrity and transparency,” said Governor Newsom. “Last year we took unprecedented steps to ensure all voters had the opportunity to cast a ballot during the pandemic and today we are making those measures permanent after record-breaking participation in the 2020 presidential election.”
Secretary of State Shirley Weber, Ph.D., says, “The bill will permanently expand access and increase participation in our elections by making voting more convenient and meeting people where they are. Vote-by-mail has significantly increased participation of eligible voters. Voters like having options for returning their ballot whether by mail, at a secure drop box, a voting center or at a traditional polling station. And the more people who participate in elections, the stronger our democracy and the more we have assurance that elections reflect the will of the people of California.”
“When voters get a ballot in the mail, they vote,” said Assemblymember Berman. “We saw this in the 2020 General Election when, in the middle of a global health pandemic, we had the highest voter turnout in California since Harry Truman was president.”
Governor Newsom also signed several other election reform measures, listed below:
- AB 37 by Assemblymember Marc Berman (D-Menlo Park) – Elections: vote by mail ballots.
- AB 319 by Assemblymember Suzette Valladares (R-Santa Clarita) – Political Reform Act of 1974: contributions: foreign governments or principals.
- AB 796 by Assemblymember Marc Berman (D-Menlo Park) – Voter registration: California New Motor Voter Program.
- AB 1367 by Assemblymember Evan Low (D-Campbell) – Political Reform Act of 1974: committee accounts and campaign funds.
- AB 1495 by Assemblymember Luz Rivas (D-San Fernando Valley) – Vacancy elections.
- AB 1590 by Committee on Elections – Political Reform Act of 1974.
- SB 35 by Senator Tom Umberg (D-Santa Ana) – Elections.
- SB 503 by Senator Josh Becker (D-Menlo Park) – Voting: ballots and signature verification.
- SB 594 by Senator Steve Glazer (D-Contra Costa) – Elections: redistricting.
- SB 686 by Senator Steve Glazer (D-Contra Costa) – Campaign disclosure: limited liability companies.