Republicans sue California Gov. Newsom over his executive order to allow mail-in voting for the November election

rperper@businessinsider.com (Rosie Perper)

Gov. Gavin Newsom speaks at the California Chamber of Commerce's 94th Annual Sacramento Host Breakfast on Thursday, May 23, 2019, in Sacramento, California.

Associated Press

  • The Republican Party is suing California Gov. Gavin Newsom over his May 8 executive order to allow every registered California voter to submit a ballot by mail for the upcoming presidential election. 
  • In a lawsuit filed on Sunday, the Republican National Committee, National Republican Congressional Committee, and the California Republican Party claim that Newsom's order was a "brazen power grab" that exceeded his capacity as governor. 
  • California Secretary of State Alex Padilla said in a tweet on Sunday that the lawsuit is "just another part of Trump's political smear campaign against voting by mail." 
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The Republican Party is suing California Gov. Gavin Newsom over his decision to allow every registered California voter to submit a ballot by mail for the upcoming presidential election. 

Newsom issued an executive order earlier this month ensuring that every registered voter in California will be automatically mailed a ballot ahead of the November election. The governor said the move would ensure the safety of Californians who may not be able to vote in-person due to the coronavirus outbreak.

"Elections and the right to vote are foundational to our democracy," Newsom said in his May 8 executive order. "No Californian should be forced to risk their health in order to exercise their right to vote." 

"Today we become the first state in the nation to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic by mailing every registered voter a ballot," California Secretary of State Alex Padilla said in the order. 

Newsom clarified in a press conference that the executive order does not replace in-person voting.

In a lawsuit filed at the US District Court for the Eastern District of California on Sunday, the Republican National Committee, National Republican Congressional Committee, and the California Republican Party claim that Newsom's order was a "brazen power grab" that exceeded his capacity as governor. 

"The US Constitution entrusts state legislatures to set the time, place, and manner of congressional elections and to determine how the state chooses electors for the presidency," the lawsuit states. 

"In a direct usurpation of the legislature's authority, Governor Newsom issued an executive order purporting to rewrite the entire election code for the November 2020 election," it continues. "This brazen power grab was not authorized by state law and violates both the Elections Clause and Electors Clause of the US Constitution."

In addition to alleging that Newsom's order is invalid, the lawsuit claims that the move "will violate eligible citizens' right to vote" and allow for fraudulent voting. 

Newsom has not yet publicly responded to the lawsuit.

In a series of tweets, Padilla said the lawsuit was "just another part of Trump's political smear campaign against voting by mail." 

"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," Padilla tweeted.

"We will not let this virus be exploited for voter suppression," he added.

Earlier on Sunday, President Donald Trump tweeted that mail-in ballots will allow for the "greatest Rigged Election in history." 

"The United States cannot have all Mail In Ballots," he wrote. "It will be the greatest Rigged Election in history. People grab them from mailboxes, print thousands of forgeries and "force" people to sign. Also, forge names. Some absentee OK, when necessary. Trying to use Covid for this Scam!" 

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