Senator Seeks to Make California 'Permanent Vote-by-Mail State'

Senator Seeks to Make California 'Permanent Vote-by-Mail State'
Mail-in ballots in their envelopes await processing at the Los Angeles County Registrar Recorders' processing center in Pomona, Calif., on Oct. 28, 2020. (Robyn Beck/AFP via Getty Images)

California State Sen. Thomas Umberg (D-Santa Ana) called the 2020 presidential election “an unqualified success,” in terms of how it was carried out in California. He introduced proposed election reforms Dec. 8 that include making mail-in voting permanent in the state.

“The success of this November’s election makes it clear that California needs to be a permanent vote-by-mail state,” Umberg stated in a press release.

“More and more people are choosing to vote by mail. We continue to see a record turnout, and voters have improved faith that their right to vote is protected. It is time for California to follow the lead of Oregon, Washington, Hawaii, Colorado, and Utah and make sure eligible voters have safe and accessible access to the polls.”

Republican leaders have been mostly quiet about Umberg’s proposals, however, Sen. Patricia Bates (R-Laguna Niguel) said it was Democrats who had previously blocked her proposed bills geared toward fair elections.

“I am open to reform efforts that would increase the integrity of our elections,” Bates told The Epoch Times. “However, one of the proposed measures does not require people to request a mailed ballot. Asking people to request a ballot would be a simple safeguard to deter fraud.

“I authored Senate Bill 57 [2019] ... to prevent automatic voter registration irregularities at the DMV and Senate Bill 994 [2020] to ensure accurate voter rolls. The majority party blocked my bills. Going forward, I hope my Democratic colleagues will work with me on my proposals to increase election integrity,” Bates said.

Umberg is also proposing increased penalties for unofficial or fraudulent vote centers.

“I found it outrageous that voters were led by partisan campaigns to believe that filing cabinets with placards were ‘official’ ballot boxes. In addition, I know of at least one investigation that is underway regarding a campaign office that claimed to be an official vote center,” Umberg stated.

“I am committed to working on this issue in 2021 to make sure that no voter is being taken advantage of and any attempt to confuse or manipulate the public will be addressed with the seriousness that it deserves.”

Umberg’s reforms consist of four bills. Senate Bill 29 would guarantee all eligible voters in jurisdictions conducting elections in 2021 receive mail-in ballots and sets standards for safe in-person voting amid COVID-19. Senate Bill 34 would increase penalties for unofficial or fraudulent vote centers.

Senate Bill 35 seeks to increase the 100-foot buffer around vote centers for electioneering, with Umberg citing as the reason allegations of campaigning and intimidation of voters at the centers. Assembly Bill 37, co-authored by Umberg, is the one that would make California a permanent vote-by-mail state.

While Umberg states that the 2020 presidential election was a success in his state, nationally, more than three dozen states and an assortment of lawmakers and third parties filed a flurry of briefs on Dec. 10, picking sides in a legal battle over whether the Supreme Court should consider a lawsuit brought by Texas that alleges that Pennsylvania, Georgia, Michigan, and Wisconsin conducted their elections in violation of the Constitution. The Supreme Court has rejected the lawsuit.