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2022 New Laws | Here's what's new in California for vote by mail ballots

The vote by mail ballots bill requires mail ballots to also apply toward local elections officials.

SACRAMENTO, Calif. — As dozens of new California laws are set to go into effect on Jan. 1, 2022, some address more recently relevant topics like voting accessibility, menstrual products in school, housing and environmental protection.

Here is what you need to know about new voting laws that are officially on the books in 2022.

Mail every voter a ballot - Assembly Bill 37

Introduced by Assemblyman Marc Berman, D-Menlo Park, and approved by Gov. Gavin Newsom on Sept. 27, the vote by mail ballots bill requires mail ballots to also apply toward local elections.

A vote-by-mail tracking system would also have to be made accessible to voters with disabilities, and all voters could solicit the permission of county elections officials to cast a ballot from a certified remote vote-by-mail system.

If a mail ballot is received no later than 7 days after an election, with the sent date of the ballot taken into consideration, the vote is still valid.

The bill requires any county not participating in an all-mailed ballot election to have at least two vote-by-mail drop-off locations within the jurisdiction where an election is underway — or one drop-off location per every 30,000 registered voters in the jurisdiction.

What's new?

Some prior exceptions to voting in person that only applied to people living with a disability, now extends to all registered voters. The deadline for elections officials to consider a mail ballot has also been extended from 3 days post election day, to now 7 days.

Whereas the past embargo date was 15 days before an election, local elections officials with the technology can now start processing mail ballots 29 days before an election.

What do critics say?

Inactive voters and outdated or unavailable home addresses means many registered voters won't receive the automated mail-in ballots.

Assemblyman Steven Choi, R-Irvine, said in an interview with KQED the vote-by-mail system was necessary in 2020 because of the pandemic, "however, we know it is possible to administer in-person elections while protecting the public health from COVID-19."


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