A practice started because of the coronavirus pandemic is now permanent in California.
Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) on Monday signed into law a bill requiring county elections officials to automatically send all active registered voters ballots for all elections. This measure also gives voters more time to get their mail-in ballots to elections offices, extending the deadline from three days to seven days after an election. Those who prefer to vote in-person will still have the option to do so.
California, Newsom said in a statement, is "increasing voter access, expanding voting options, and bolstering elections integrity and transparency." Last year, ballots were sent to all eligible voters in order to prevent the spread of the coronavirus at polling sites. The state saw the highest general election turnout rate in nearly seven decades, with more than 70 percent of voters participating, The Sacramento Bee reports. The California Secretary of State's office said 86.7 percent of those votes were cast by mail-in ballots.
Prior to the pandemic, voters were able to request mail-in ballots from their county elections offices, but this new law will likely get even more Californians involved in the process, Secretary of State Shirley Weber said in a statement. "The more people who participate in elections, the stronger our democracy and the more we have assurance that elections reflect the will of the people of California," she added.