In this April 9, 2020, file photo, California Gov. Gavin Newsom listens to a reporter’s question during his daily news briefing in Rancho Cordova, Calif. California’s major deal for hundreds of millions of N95 respirator masks hit a delay in ... more >

'Illegal election power grab': GOP sues Gavin Newsom over vote-by-mail executive order


Republicans are taking California to court over Gov. Gavin Newsom’s plan for his state to conduct November’s election entirely by mail over coronavirus fears.

Republican National Committee Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel announced on Twitter that her organization, the National Republican Congressional Committee and the California Republican Party have filed court papers seeking to block Mr. Newsom’s executive order that would send mail-in ballots to all 20.6 million registered voters.

The “radical plan” is an “illegal election power grab” that, Ms. McDaniel also called “a recipe for disaster that would create more opportunities for fraud & destroy the confidence Californians deserve to have in their elections.”

While Ms. McDaniel noted that several states, one of which is heavily-Republican Utah, conduct elections entirely by mail, those were done more carefully and under better conditions.

“None of them send millions of ballots to ‘inactive’ voters like Newsom is demanding. In Washington, it took 5 years to transition to mail-in ballots. Their SOS recently said ‘you can’t just flip a switch’ like Newsom wants, either,” she wrote.

Mr. Newsom and other California officials have defended the change ordered May 8 by citing public-health concerns of millions of people lining up to vote when there is a chance of infection. They have said the change is temporary and they hope to conduct a safe in-person election on Nov. 3, but will send mail-in ballots unsolicited to every registered voter in case not.

According to the Los Angeles Times, California has seen around 95,000 COVID-19 cases and 3,800 deaths among its 40-million populace.

Alex Padilla, California’s Democratic secretary of state, responded to the lawsuit Sunday evening on Twitter by saying expanded voting isn’t a partisan issue and by taking a shot at President Trump.

“Expanding vote-by-mail during a pandemic is not a partisan issue — it’s a moral imperative to protect voting rights and public safety. Vote-by-mail has been used safely and effectively in red, blue, and purple states for years. This lawsuit is just another part of Trump’s political smear campaign against voting by mail. We will not let this virus be exploited for voter suppression,” he wrote over two tweets.

But Ms. McDaniel said it was the Democrats who were trying to not let a crisis go to waste.

“Make no mistake, Democrats are trying to use this pandemic to redesign our entire election system for political gain, and we will not let their brazen attempts go unchallenged,” she wrote.