CA Superior Court Temporarily Suspends Newsom’s Order Providing for Statewide Vote-by-Mail Election

COVID-19 Update

A California state court has suspended the implementation and carrying out of Governor Gavin Newsom’s recent Executive Order requiring that vote-by-mail ballots be sent to all registered voters statewide pending a full court hearing on the constitutionality of the controversial executive order.

On Friday, June 12, 2020, Sutter County Superior Court Judge Perry Parker granted a temporary restraining order (TRO) suspending the implementation and carrying out of Governor Newsom’s Executive Order (EO) N-67-20, which modified several state election laws.

Governor Newsom issued EO N-67-20 on June 3, 2020, partly in response to concerns about in-person voting during the COVID-19 pandemic. The Order was a follow-up to EO N-64-20, issued on May 8, 2020, which required all county election officials to send vote-by-mail ballots to all registered voters in their jurisdictions. The June 3 EO mandated that county election officials:

  1. Use the Secretary of State’s vote-by-mail ballot tracking system and Intelligent Mail barcodes
  2. Provide at least one in-person voting site per 10,000 registered voters, including some mandatory early voting sites
  3. Provide a minimum of two vote-by-mail drop-off locations, and at least one vote-by-mail ballot drop-off location per 15,000 registered voters

The Governor’s June 3 EO also made clear that counties were not required to conduct any in-person public meetings or workshops in connection with the preparation of plans for the administration of the November 3, 2020 General Election, as long as the county posted a draft of its election plan on its elections website and accepted public comment to that plan for at least ten days.

The petition for the TRO was filed on June 11, 2020, by Northern California Assembly Members James Gallagher (R-Yuba City) and Kevin Kiley (R-Rocklin). The legislators called the decision “a victory for separation of powers.”

The Judge’s Order also scheduled a hearing in Superior Court in Yuba City on June 26, 2020, to show cause as to why EO N-76-20 should not be enjoined, as well as enjoining Governor Newsom from “further exercising any legislative powers in violation of the California Constitution and applicable statute, specifically from unilaterally amending, altering, or changing existing statutory law or making new statutory law.”

Manatt is working to support Governor Newsom’s Orders to provide vote-by-mail ballots to all registered California voters for the November general election so that voters have the choice to vote by mail during the current COVID-19 pandemic. On June 10, a Manatt team led by John Libby and Christopher Wanger, along with our pro bono partners Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law and Public Counsel, filed a motion to intervene on behalf of our clients California Common Cause, the League of Women Voters of California and the L.A.-based organization Community Coalition, in two cases brought by the Republican National Committee, U.S. Representative Darrell Issa and others, challenging Governor Newsom’s Executive Orders on this issue.

For more information, see here.

The Order was stayed by the Court of Appeal on June 17, 2020.

manatt-black

ATTORNEY ADVERTISING

pursuant to New York DR 2-101(f)

© 2020 Manatt, Phelps & Phillips, LLP.

All rights reserved