Existing law ordered county elections officials to mail a ballot to every listed voter for the Nov. 3 general election. Senate Bill 29 (SB 29), which passed by a 29-7 vote and now goes to the State Assembly, would increase that mandate to all elections proclaimed or conducted prior to Jan. 1, 2022.
State Sen. Melissa Melendez (R-Lake Elsinore), who voted against the bill, explained that the measure threatens to decay voting rights that are precious. “We must do everything we can to ensure the integrity of our election system by opposing these attempts to destroy it,” she said.
“Now, more than ever, Californians need to have confidence in the integrity of our elections and that they are free from manipulation. SB 29 only seeks to make mail-in voting more ‘normal’ by extending its uses beyond its stated purpose of preventing COVID transmission.”
Proponents affirm that vote-by-mail ballots sent to all listed voters for special elections will enable a safer alternative to voting in-person throughout the COVID-19 pandemic.
Sen. Tom Umberg (D-Santa Ana), the bill’s author, attributed California’s historic “voter turnout” in the Nov. 3 general election to vote-by-mail ballots, which he said were “safe, secure, and accurate.”
Throughout the Senate Appropriations Committee hearing earlier this month, Umberg explained that the election “worked out quite well except for a couple of irregularities, primarily in Orange County.” He cited the highest voter attendance since President Harry S. Truman was in office.
In addition to presenting more safety for voters and poll workers, “SB 29 simply takes some of the provisions that were enacted because of the COVID crisis in the November 2020 election and incorporates them into special elections in 2021,” Umberg announced at the Jan. 21 hearing.
Election Integrity Project California (EIPCa), a citizens’ watchdog group centered on California elections, worries that the newly introduced state law enables increased voter fraud by increasing Assembly Bill 860 (AB 860), which required county officials to send vote-by-mail ballots to all listed voters statewide for the Nov. 3 election.
EIPCa Director of Legislative Oversight Ruth Weiss cited those statistics and others included in the letter at a Senate Elections and Constitutional Amendments Committee hearing on Jan. 14, where she asked the committee to reject SB 29 and “not to double down on such a disastrous mistake.”
“A vibrant and functional democratic process cannot tolerate California’s current disregard for clear errors in the voter rolls,” she told the committee. “Californians can have no faith in a system that would perpetuate policies that lead to the statistics such as the ones our opposition letter provides.”