A dramatic change planned for California elections next year is morphing into a partisan battle over how the state’s ballots should be cast. When Gov. Jerry Brown signed SB450 in September, it was billed as a new way to boost California’s falling election turnout. Mailing a ballot to every voter in participating counties and replacing the traditional neighborhood polling places with a relative handful of community voting centers would cut costs and make it easier to cast a ballot. “This landmark law will provide voters more options for when, where and how they cast a ballot,” Secretary of State Alex Padilla, who sponsored what has been dubbed the California Voter’s Choice Act, said in a statement at the time. The bill, he said, “will increase civic participation and make our democracy stronger.” But Padilla was far less jolly last month after Orange County supervisors, worried about what they said was the potential for abuse, unanimously refused to sign on to his plan, dismissing it without discussion.
“I have real concerns about voter fraud,” Supervisor Todd Spitzer, who made the motion to reject Padilla’s plan, told the Orange County Register.
In an unusually blunt letter to the supervisors, Padilla urged them to reconsider, arguing that the board’s refusal “to allow a public discussion of these proven reforms is particularly concerning.”
The secretary, a former Democratic legislator, slammed the all-Republican board, arguing that its decision “was driven less by the interests of the people of Orange County and more by political considerations.”