Republicans sue California over "illegal" vote-by-mail order

by Peter Heck · May 25th, 2020 2:01 pm

The Republican National Committee, along with the National Republican Congressional Committee and the California Republican Party, have all filed a lawsuit against California Gov. Gavin Newsom for his executive order to provide all registered voters in the state a vote-by-mail ballot.

California Secretary of State Alex Padilla is also named in the lawsuit. It was Padilla who celebrated the order with an enthusiastic announcement on May 8.

Although the policy was made in the name of public health and safety amid the coronavirus pandemic, the RNC lawsuit highlights several potential constitutional and legal problems with the order. For instance, "all registered voters" includes many who have died or moved but have never been updated in the system, which the RNC said increases chances of voter fraud.

Calling the effort an "illegal and brazen power grab," the Republicans explained their objections in a legal complaint filed Sunday:

"Moreover, in his haste, the Governor created a system that will violate eligible citizens' right to vote. By ordering that vote-by-mail ballots be automatically sent to every registered voter — including inactive voters, voters with invalid registrations, voters who have moved, voters who have died, and voters who don't want a ballot — he has created a recipe for disaster. No State that regularly conducts statewide all-mail elections automatically mails ballots to inactive voters because it invites fraud, coercion, theft, and otherwise illegitimate voting. Fraudulent and invalid votes dilute the votes of honest citizens and deprive them of their right to vote in violation of the Fourteenth Amendment.

Finally, the Governor reserved for himself the sole discretion to choose if and where in-person voting will occur. Such unbridled discretion, which leads to arbitrary and disparate treatment of individual voters, violates the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment."


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