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California announces mail-in voting for November election due to COVID-19 concerns

Gov. Gavin Newsom signs an executive order Friday for every Californian to receive a ballot in the mail.

Gavin Newsom California mail voting election
California Gov. Gavin Newsom announces mail voting for the 2020 election.
Screenshot by Corinne Reichert/CNET

This story is part of Elections 2020, CNET's coverage of the voting in November and its aftermath.

Californians will be voting by mail during the 2020 federal election due to concerns about the spread of COVID-19, with Gov. Gavin Newsom signing an executive order Friday morning for all registered voters to receive a ballot in the mail. There will still be some physical voting sites but they'll be subject to guidelines aimed at protecting voters' health, Newsom said during a midday briefing when he also kicked off phase two of California's reopening.

"There is a lot of concern and anxiety around this November's election in terms of making sure that you can conduct yourself in a safe way," Newsom said. "We are reaching out to all registered, eligible voters and giving them the opportunity and giving them the choice not to feel like they have to go into a concentrated dense environment where their health may be at risk, but provide an additional asset and additional resources by way of voting by mail."

Return postage on the ballots is prepaid.

California Secretary of State Alex Padilla said it will be great for health, voters' rights and participation in the election. The state has been working on the mail-in voting system for "many many moths ... since the beginning of this pandemic," Newsom said.

For those who are uncomfortable with using mail-in ballots or have disabilities or other issues precluding them from voting by mail, Newsom said California will still "have the appropriate number of physical sites for people to vote in as well." The governor said there will be "a very detailed plan" by the end of this month at the latest on how to ensure physical voting locations protect voters.

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The information contained in this article is for educational and informational purposes only and is not intended as health or medical advice. Always consult a physician or other qualified health provider regarding any questions you may have about a medical condition or health objectives.