Last week, the California State Legislator approved a bill that would ensure every voter in California would receive a mail ballot in all future elections. The Bill was sent to Governor Gavin Newsom for signature.
The bill, AB 37, by Assemblyman Marc Berman (D-Menlo Park) would require county elections officials to permit any voter to cast a ballot using a certified remote accessible vote by mail system for any election. It also changes how long votes can be counted after election day from 3-days to now 7-days (ballots still have to be postmarked by election day)
This bill would require any county that does not conduct an all-mailed ballot election to provide at least two vote by mail ballot drop-off locations within the jurisdiction where the election is held, or at least one vote by mail ballot drop-off location for every 30,000 registered voters within the jurisdiction where the election is held, whichever results in more vote by mail ballot drop-off locations. In a jurisdiction with fewer than 30,000 registered voters, the bill would require at least one vote by mail ballot drop-off location, and would require the elections official to make a reasonable effort to provide a ballot drop-off location in the jurisdiction where the election is held. This bill would require the operation of vote by mail ballot drop-off locations to meet certain specified criteria.
The bill was passed by the State Assembly in a 60-17 vote on Sept. 3 and in the Senate by a 30-7 vote on Sept. 2.
December 2020 Press Release when the Bill was introduced:
Berman Bill Would Make Recent Election Reforms Permanent
Monday, December 7, 2020
SACRAMENTO — Today Assemblymember Marc Berman (D-Menlo Park) will introduce legislation which would require elections officials to mail every active registered voter a ballot for all future elections and ensure that all California voters continue to have access to vote-by-mail ballot tracking. Similar requirements were implemented prior to the 2020 General Election in November and have since been credited with the state’s success conducting a safe and secure election during a global pandemic and boosting voter turnout to recent highs.
“In the face of a global health pandemic and an unprecedented onslaught of misinformation trying to undermine voters’ faith in our democracy, California conducted a secure and remarkably successful general election,” said Assemblymember Berman. “Given the success of mailing every active registered voter a ballot, as well as other improvements we made in 2020, it only makes sense to make permanent many of the key changes adopted in response to the pandemic.”
In April, Assemblymember Berman amended his AB 860 to require that every active registered California voter receive a vote-by-mail ballot for the 2020 General Election. AB 860 also allowed counties to begin processing returned vote-by-mail ballots earlier, extended the deadline for receipt of vote-by-mail ballots, allowed voters to use remote accessible vote-by-mail systems, and ensured that all California voters had the ability to track their ballots as they moved through the mail system and were processed by elections officials (a system that was initially created by Berman’s AB 2218 in 2018). The bill was signed into law as an urgency measure in June, and was a key part of the state’s preparations for conducting a safe and successful presidential election during the COVID-19 pandemic. In all, approximately 15 million Californians voted in the General Election using a ballot that was mailed to them, and more than 4.5 million Californians registered for ballot tracking.
If signed into law, California would become the sixth state to require active registered voters to be mailed a ballot before each election. Hawaii, Oregon, Washington, Colorado, and Utah already do so.