Judicial Watch Sues to Stop California Governor Newsom’s ‘Vote by Mail’ Mandate
Plaintiffs Include Voters and Congressional Candidate Darrell Issa
(Washington, DC) – Judicial Watch announced today it filed a lawsuit to stop the special, statewide vote-by-mail mandate issued by California Governor Gavin Newsom. The plaintiffs in the lawsuit include former U.S. Representative Darrell Issa (a candidate in the upcoming November election) and individual California voters from across the political spectrum. The lawsuit was filed in the U.S. District Court in Sacramento against Gov. Newsom and California Secretary of State Alex Padilla (Darrell Issa, et al. v. Gavin Newsom, et al. (No. 2:20-cv-01044)).
The Judicial Watch complaint argues that Newsom’s Executive Order N-64-20, requiring all California counties to conduct all-mail ballot elections, violates the U.S. Constitution and California state law. According to the U.S. Constitution, only state legislatures may determine the “Times, Places and Manner of holding Elections for Senators and Representatives,” and only state legislatures may establish the manner in which electors to the Electoral College are appointed. The lawsuit points out that “[n]either defendant in this case is a ‘Legislature,’” as required under the Constitution, and “[t]he California Legislature never delegated to [Newsom] its authority under the Elections Clause or Electors Clause to regulate the manner of conducting elections for senators, representatives, or presidential electors.”
Judicial Watch also contends that Newsom’s mandate violates the California Voter’s Choice Act of 2016, which grants counties the option to qualify for and opt in to a system of mail-in voting. Judicial Watch argues the law reflects the legislature’s deliberate choice to delegate to each county the decision about whether to qualify and opt in to the all-mail ballot system. During the March 3, 2020 primary election, only 15 of California’s 58 counties qualified and opted-in to the all-mail balloting system.
The lawsuit alleges the plaintiffs will be harmed by Newsom’s mandate for all-mail voting because it imposes an entirely new election system that ignores the extensive qualifications required by California law before a county can opt in to all-mail balloting. Judicial Watch argues its plaintiffs will be at risk of having their votes thrown out or diluted by invalid votes under Newsom’s illegal system, and that Mr. Issa will have to expend additional resources to respond to the illegal mandate during his campaign.
“Governor Newsom’s vote-by-mail mandate is unconstitutional and may cause the votes of countless voters to be thrown out or not counted,” stated Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton. “California law prohibits blindly mailing out ballots to every registered voter in the state. This scheme raises the risk of Election Day chaos as well as voter fraud.”
In 2018, California settled a federal lawsuit with Judicial Watch and began the process of removing up to 1.6 million inactive names from Los Angeles County’s voter rolls. Judicial Watch late last year sent notices to 11 additional California counties warning them of voting list maintenance issues. Judicial Watch recently sued North Carolina and Pennsylvania to force them to clean up their voter rolls.