In a move that is huge and will likely lead to increased legal action, a judge in California has blocked the massive overreach of Governor Gavin Newsom, in his attempt to rewrite election procedures… aka cheat-by-mail ballot scheme that Newsom established using an executive order.
Assembly members James Gallagher (R-Yuba City) and Kevin Kiley (R-Rocklin) filed the request not only to block the governor’s executive order on election provisions, but also to challenge his use of executive powers, which they argue have illegally supplanted the Legislature’s authority.
“The underlying principle behind what we did is separation of powers,” Gallagher said. “A lot of things have gotten out of whack with this [pandemic] emergency.”
Sutter Superior Court Judge Perry Parker granted the lawmakers’ request for a temporary restraining order against a recent Newsom executive order that allowed counties to reduce precincts on Election Day if they provide in-person voting centers for at least three days prior.
The GOP filing did not challenge the governor’s original executive order mandating that all California voters receive mail ballots for the November election.
Parker’s order further bars Newsom from “exercising any further legislative powers in violation of the California Constitution and applicable statute, specifically from unilaterally amending, altering, or changing existing statutory law or making new statutory law.”
Gallagher, vice chair of the Assembly Elections and Redistricting Committee, noted that the legal challenge was not aimed at challenging Newsom’s vote-by-mail order, which various Republican organizations have already sued to block.
Instead, the Friday order “temporarily suspended the governor’s order which dealt with many different changes to the election law … including public meetings with voting rights groups and disability rights groups, and the provision which says the counties have to provide a polling place in every precinct,” Gallagher said.
Newsom press secretary Jesse Melgar said Friday, “We are disappointed in this initial ruling and look forward to the opportunity to brief the Court on the issues raised for the June 26 hearing.”
While Newsom won early praise for his handling of stay-at-home orders, the Democratic governor faced increasing scrutiny in April and May for issuing dozens of executive orders while state lawmakers remained in recess.
That concern was raised by lawmakers in both parties who felt the governor was not engaging them enough in state decision-making.
Gallagher argued Friday that the governor’s order was an attempt to overstep his power by mandating what individual counties needed to do to proceed with the election, and some of those matters are currently being examined by the Legislature.
In one such example, the Senate approved legislation Thursday that requires California to send all voters a mail ballot in November, similar to Newsom’s executive order but potentially on firmer legal ground by creating state statute.
Republicans, including President Donald Trump, have attacked Newsom for calling a mail-ballot election for November, warning that it will lead to voting fraud. Democrats have said such charges are unfounded and have pointed to long lines during elections in Wisconsin and Georgia as a health risk during the pandemic.
Other lawsuits have been filed by watchdog and GOP groups challenging the legality of changing the fundamental voting process of the United States.