OAKLAND, Calif. (KTVU) - President Donald Trump on Tuesday blasted California Gov. Gavin Newsom on Twitter for his plan to send every registered voter in the state a mail-in ballot amid the COVID-19 crisis.
"There is NO WAY (ZERO!) that Mail-In Ballots will be anything less than substantially fraudulent. Mail boxes will be robbed, ballots will be forged & even illegally printed out & fraudulently signed," the president tweeted.
“The Governor of California is sending Ballots to millions of people, anyone living in the state, no matter who they are or how they got there, will get one. That will be followed up with professionals telling all of these people, many of whom have never even thought of voting before, how, and for whom, to vote. This will be a Rigged Election. No way!,” Trump added.
The Republican National Committee, National Republican Congressional Committee, and California Republican Party are suing Newsom, accusing him of an "illegal power grab" over his executive order to send mail-in ballots to all registered voters.
“It’s a massive civil rights violation and dilution of the vote of all legitimate voters to spam the entire potential electorate with unrequested absentee ballots,” said Harmeet Dhillon, a prominent Bay Area republican and the lawyer representing the organizations.
"Democrats continue to use this pandemic as a ploy to implement their partisan election agenda, and Governor Newsom's executive order is the latest direct assault on the integrity of our elections," said Republican National Committee chairwoman Ronna McDaniel said in a statement. Adding, "Newsom’s illegal power grab is a recipe for disaster that would destroy the confidence Californians deserve to have in the security of their vote.”
The California governor stands by his plan to make sure that voting is accessible during the crisis and that it is done so safely and securely.
"California will continue to defend Californians' right to vote, including their right to vote by mail, and the right to hold an election that is safe, secure, and accessible. Voters shouldn't have to choose between their health and their right to vote," Jesse Melgar, press secretary for Newsom, said in a statement Sunday night that was obtained by CNN.
California and several other states have explored expanding mail-in voting amidst the coronavirus pandemic.
When asked about the president’s remarks, Newsom said there’s no evidence that mail-in ballots lead to widespread “fraudulent voting,” citing three studies supporting his case.
“I don’t think it deserves to be politicized,” said Newsom during his Tuesday news conference. “I hope we can temper our comments on the other side, but I understand we’re in a political season.”
Newsom said he’s also working with counties to keep in-person polling places safe. Colorado, Hawaii, Oregon, Utah and Washington already conduct elections entirely by mail.
“The idea that we have some sort of systemic problem with our voting system whether it be in person or vote-by-mail is simply not the case,” said Loyola Law School Professor and the co-host of “The Legal Eagle Files” on KCRW.
Levinson, an expert in election law, stresses cases of voter fraud are incredibly rare. She says the real concern should be with attempts at voter suppression. She believes states need to act now, like California, to allow people to vote safely in November.
“One: epidemiologists have said we’re likely to have a second wave in the fall,” said Levinson. “And two: local county registrars need time to ramp up. Time to send all those vote by mail ballots.”
A Fox News poll released this week shows 63% of Americans support allowing U.S. citizens to vote-by-mail due to coronavirus concerns. Though, the results are divided by party: 83% of Democrats were in favor, 60% of independents and 42% of Republicans agree.