Beginning with the early days of the pandemic in 2020, all California residents were sent mail-in ballots, allowing all state residents a COVID-safe option to participate in elections.
Assembly Bill 37, which took effect in January, has made universal vote-by-mail permantstate law.
That means that for every election California residents will be sent a mail-in ballot and will have accessible drop-off locations.
Their votes will also be insured by a mail tracking system. And return ballot envelopes have pre-paid postage.
“It makes it easier for them to participate in their democracy,” said the new law’s author, Assembly member Marc Berman, D-Palo Alto. “And that’s what we should be doing as elected officials.”
Ciera Lundy, a junior educational studies major at the University of La Verne, said she voted by mail in the 2020 general election and liked it a lot.
“I felt like it was really easy and gave me a lot of time to get familiar with what the ballot looked like,” Lundy said. “And I was able to research at home what I was interested in, and have time to go over stuff before actually sending it in.”
Voting by mail was common in the 2020 election nationwide and actually led to higher voter turnout, said Assembly member Berman.
But for some it shifted their perspective on voting.
University of La Verne Political Science Professor Jason Neidleman said it all depends on how we view voting. “Do we view it as a right?” Neidleman asked. “Do we view it as a privilege? Do we view it as something we want people to do as easily as possible? Or are we OK with there being some barrier to entry for participating in the political process?”
Neidleman said some opposition to universal vote-by-mail comes from Republicans who believe it contributes to voter fraud.
This is despite all evidence to the contrary.
“They have convinced themselves that if more people vote that benefits the democrats and so they oppose bills like this that make it easier to vote,” Niedleman said.
But Assemblymember Berman said the vast majority of California voters from all political parties appreciate universal vote-by-mail.
Berman said he thinks it increases the people’s trust in the system.
“They can really check and see OK my ballot was received by the election officials,” Berman said. “OK my ballot was processed by election officials, OK my ballot was counted by election officials.”
Berman encourages everyone to go out and vote and participate in their democracy.
Megan Mojica can be reached at email@example.com.