(SACRAMENTO, Calif.) – Today, California Common Cause, the League of Women Voters of California and the L.A.-based organization, Community Coalition, filed a motion to intervene in Republican National Committee v. Newsom and Issa v. Newsom (both related cases). These cases challenge Governor Newsom’s executive order N-64-20 that requires county elections boards to send automatic mail-in ballots to all registered California voters for the November general election so that voters have the choice to vote by mail during a pandemic. As both major political parties are involved in the case, the nonpartisan groups seek to intervene on behalf of impacted voters and community partners who feel that it is necessary for the State of California to offer multiple voting options to make voting during a pandemic inclusive and accessible to all eligible, registered voters.
Intervenor groups are represented by Public Counsel, Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law (“Lawyers’ Committee”), and Manatt, Phelps & Phillips, LLP.
“Sadly, a political party has filed suit in order to make it more difficult and less safe for people to vote. Our clients are intervening in order to make sure that the voices of those whose rights are in jeopardy – the voters – are heard,” said Kristen Clarke, president and executive director of the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law.
“Mail-in voting is the sensible way to maximize voter turnout and protect public health in the time of COVID-19. It’s how President Trump votes,” said Jesselyn Friley, attorney at Public Counsel. “The RNC lawsuit is all about reducing access to the ballot box by making exercise of the franchise a life-threatening risk, and as with so many consequences of the pandemic, this risk will fall disproportionately on communities of color.”
“It has never been more important to ensure that eligible voters can exert their fundamental right to be heard and participate in the upcoming election, especially during this current public health crisis,” said John Libby, partner with Manatt, Phelps & Phillips, LLP. “Manatt is proud to work with our clients and co-counsel to support Governor Newsom’s executive order to send mail-in ballots to every active registered voter in California for the November election.”
Intervenors had the following reactions to the lawsuit:
“These lawsuits are filled with baseless claims about vote-by-mail being rife with fraud and California’s elections being poorly run. They are light on facts and heavy on partisan rhetoric,” said Jonathan Mehta Stein, executive director at California Common Cause. “We seek to defend the Governor’s Executive Order to ensure access to the ballot for all California voters, but we also hope to protect California’s approach to elections, which has always put voter access first without sacrificing security.”
“As our leaders wage a political fight around mail-in ballots, the League knew we needed to step in to protect voters’ rights and bring their voice to the table,” said Stephanie Doute, executive director of the League of Women Voters of California. “Right now, voters—especially those in high-risk categories—are weighing how to keep themselves safe while they exercise their right to vote. These same voters are the ones who traditionally struggle with fair ballot access. We cannot allow political games to drown out the voter’s perspective. Voters must be the priority as we head into another important election.”
“Around the country, we have seen voters opt for vote-at-home options to ensure their safety during this pandemic,” said Chris Carson, president of the board of the League of Women Voters of the United States. “Even before the pandemic hit, voters were increasingly taking advantage of mail-in options. Voters have clearly shown that vote-by-mail is a valued choice for casting their ballots. Now is especially not the time to stand in the way of voter access.”
Hector Sanchez, deputy director of Community Coalition said, “This lawsuit is important to CoCo because ensuring everyone has the opportunity to exercise their right to vote is of utmost importance especially in this moment that we are currently living in. Sending a vote-by-mail ballot to every voter will show black and brown people that California is committed to all communities participating in our democracy.”
A link to the motion filed in RNC v. Newsom can be found here.
And a link in Issa v. Newsom can be found here.
About the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law – The Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization, was formed in 1963 at the request of President John F. Kennedy to involve the private bar in providing legal services to address racial discrimination. Now in its 56th year, the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law is continuing its quest to “Move America Toward Justice.” The principal mission of the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law is to secure, through the rule of law, equal justice for all, particularly in the areas of criminal justice, fair housing and community development, economic justice, educational opportunities, and voting rights.