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New felon rights win: Californians will decide on letting parolees vote

Another big moment for efforts to expand the voting rights of former prisoners will come in November, when Californians decide whether almost 50,000 parolees should be given access to the ballot box.

Sponsors of the referendum, which last week won final legislative approval for a spot on the ballot, say they're confident the vote will go their way. That would add the nation's most populous state to the roster of 16 that permit felons to vote as soon as they get out of prison.

Restoring the franchise to ex-convicts has become a top cause of civil rights groups, who say democracy is enhanced when political power is given back to people who have paid their debt to society. The campaign has gained additional momentum this summer from the nationwide protests against police violence and systemic racism.

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Harmeet Dhillon, one of the state's Republican National Committee members, says a new law's extension for postal delays creates "a lot of opportunity for mischief."

California will mail ballots to all and count those arriving 17 days late

Griffiths is the editor of Independent Voter News.

Ballots will be delivered to every registered, active California voter this fall under a law signed Thursday by Gov. Gavin Newsom.

The measure assures everyone in the nation's most populous state will be able to vote by mail in the presidential contest. It's the biggest single expansion so far of this alternative for the general election, when a surge of interest in absentee balloting nationwide seems guaranteed as a result of the coronavirus.

The bill also assures the outcome of close contests won't be known until nearly Thanksgiving, because a provision mandates that envelopes postmarked by Election Day be tabulated if they arrive as long as 17 days later. No other state has that long a grace period to allow for slow postal service.

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Another expansion of voting options ordered by California's governor

Gov. Gavin Newsom of California wants more changes to make voting easier this fall in the nation's most populous state. And he's pushing his Democratic colleagues in the Legislature to turn his moves into law, expecting that would brush back Republican lawsuits seeking to keep the status quo in place.

The governor's latest executive order, announced Wednesday, tells all 58 counties to create at least one venue for in-person voting on Election Day and also permit voting on the three days before.

Last month he told those local election officials to send all 20.6 million registered voters a general election ballot as a way to make mail-in voting the dominant system and minimize the public's exposure to the coronavirus.

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Declaration for American Democracy

Activists practiced social distancing while rallying in Contra Costa, Calif., on Saturday to demand more federal funding for the 2020 elections.

GOP sues to stop California's plan for an all-by-mail general election

The most sweeping promotion of mail voting in the presidential election so far, California's plan to send an absentee ballot to every voter, must first overcome legal challenges from the Republican Party.

The GOP has sued to prevent the effort to conduct the November election almost entirely by mail in the nation's most populous state as a way to limit the spread of the coronavirus. The lawsuit, filed Sunday in federal court, says Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom exceeded his authority this month by telling county election officials to send all 20.7 million registered Californians a ballot this fall.

His order would potentially double the number of Americans who are provided with absentee ballots automatically, without having to ask for them. That's now the practice across just five states — Colorado, Washington, Oregon, Utah and Hawaii — although state law already allows 14 smaller counties in California to hold elections entirely remotely.

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