Governor Newsom signs Assemblymember Berman's landmark legislation requiring counties to mail ballots to all active registered voters and provide ballot tracking service for all future elections
SACRAMENTO, CA — Assembly Bill 37, authored by Assemblymember Marc Berman (D-Menlo Park), was signed by Governor Gavin Newsom today, making permanent several election reforms that were adopted and used for the November 2020 General Election, including automatically mailing every active registered voter a ballot and giving every voter the opportunity to track their ballot to ensure it is counted. AB 37 additionally would set minimum vote-by-mail ballot drop-off location requirements, ensuring that voters have convenient options for returning their ballots.
“As states across our country continue to enact undemocratic voter suppression laws, California is increasing voter access, expanding voting options and bolstering elections integrity and transparency,” said Governor Gavin Newsom. “Last year we took unprecedented steps to ensure all voters had the opportunity to cast a ballot during the pandemic and today we are making those measures permanent after record-breaking participation in the 2020 presidential election. I extend my thanks to Assembly Elections Chair Assemblymember Marc Berman for his leadership on this issue.”
"When voters get a ballot in the mail, they vote,” said Assemblymember Marc Berman, Chair of the Assembly Elections Committee. “We saw this in the 2020 General Election when, in the middle of a global health pandemic, we had the highest voter turnout in California since Harry Truman was president. I want to thank Governor Newsom for signing AB 37, ensuring that every active registered voter in California will receive a ballot in the mail before every future election. As other states actively look for ways to make it harder for people to vote, California is expanding access to an already safe and secure ballot."
In April 2020, Assemblymember Berman amended his AB 860 to require that every active registered California voter receive a vote-by-mail ballot for the 2020 General Election. AB 860 also allowed counties to begin processing returned vote-by-mail ballots earlier, extended the deadline for receipt of vote-by-mail ballots, allowed voters to use remote accessible vote-by-mail systems, and ensured that all California voters had the ability to track their ballots as they moved through the mail system and were processed by elections officials (a system that was initially created by Berman’s AB 2218 in 2018). The bill was signed into law as an urgency measure in June 2020, and was a key part of the state’s preparations for conducting a safe and successful presidential election during the COVID-19 pandemic. In all, approximately 15 million Californians voted in the General Election using a ballot that was mailed to them, and more than 5 million Californians registered for ballot tracking.
These reforms were extended through the end of 2021 by Senate Bill 29 (Umberg).
California is now the sixth state to require active registered voters to be mailed a ballot before each election. Hawaii, Oregon, Washington, Colorado, and Utah already do so.
Contact: Kaitlin Curry, (916) 319-2024