The lawsuit concerns Governor Newsom’s authority to distribute mail ballots to all voters.
The UCLA Voting Rights Project has filed a notice of motion to intervene as defendants in RNC v. Newsom to protect the ability of voters to receive a vote by mail ballot automatically during the COVID-19 crisis. The lawsuit was brought by the Republican National Committee, California Republican Party, and the National Republican Congressional Committee against Governor Gavin Newsom, in his official capacity as Governor of California, Secretary Alex Padilla, in his official capacity as California Secretary of State. Based on his emergency executive authority, Governor Newsom issued Executive Order N-64-20, mandating that, to the extent otherwise permitted by law, “every Californian who is eligible to vote in the November 3, 2020 General Election shall receive a vote-by-mail ballot.” Plaintiffs contend this measure is beyond Governor Newsom’s authority and unconstitutionally invites voter fraud.
The UCLA Voting Rights Project looks to intervene on behalf of LULAC, the largest and oldest Latino organization in the country, and its California chapter. “We have seen that the COVID-19 pandemic disproportionately affects the Latino community in California. On election day, Latinos vote in-person at higher rates than other groups in California,” says Chad Dunn, Director of Litigation. “Governor Newsom’s order removed the barrier to voting by mail and any change would harm the right to vote for Latinos in California.”
The UCLA Voting Rights Project’s intervention comes after a Sutter Superior Court Judge temporarily blocked Governor Newsom’s executive order changing election procedures in California state court.
“Voting is our most sacred and fundamental right as Americans, and California’s vote-by-mail program should be a national model on how to encourage civic participation amid a deadly pandemic. Given that allegations of voter fraud with mail-in ballots have been debunked, there is no justification to restrict vote-by-mail while coronavirus remains a fatal threat,” Sonja Diaz, Founding Director of the Latino Policy and Politics Initiative said, “People of color are becoming infected and dying at disproportionate rates, and those are the same groups that have been historically disenfranchised at the ballot box. We want to join the lawsuit and defend California’s leadership in doing everything possible to keep people safe while also making it easier to vote.”
The UCLA Voting Rights Project is an effort led by the UCLA Latino Policy and Politics Initiative. The organization has published widely on other ballot access issues. This includes several reports on the implementation of universal vote-by-mail for upcoming elections and a joint-report with the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA on the safety and efficacy of different voting practices during the COVID-19 pandemic.
About the UCLA Voting Rights Project
The UCLA Voting Rights Project (VRP) is the marquee advocacy project of the UCLA Latino Policy and Politics Initiative (LPPI) at the University of California, Los Angeles and is focused on voting rights litigation, research, policy, and training. The UCLA Voting Rights Project addresses monumental and overlooked gaps in the field of voting rights: how to train young lawyers and researchers, support the development of new legal and methodological theories for voting rights cases, and how to advance policy work to ensure that there is a new generation of leaders who are pursuing efforts to guarantee all citizens have equal and fair access to our democracy. The project was founded by Chad W. Dunn, J.D. and Matt Barreto, Ph.D. The UCLA Voting Rights Project is located within the Luskin School of Public Affairs. To learn more about the UCLA Voting Rights Project, please visit https://latino.ucla.edu/votingrights.