Republicans Sue California Governor Gavin Newsom, Claim Vote-by-Mail Order Is 'Illegal Power Grab'

The Republican National Committee, National Republican Congressional Committee and California Republican Party have filed a lawsuit challenging California Democratic Governor Gavin Newsom's recent executive order to mail every registered voter an absentee ballot ahead of the November election.

Newsom this month encouraged all voters in the state to cast their ballots by mail to avoid exposure to coronavirus. The move was met with strong opposition by President Donald Trump and members of the GOP. They claim that the order invites fraud and raises concerns that Democrats could use the ballots to swing races to benefit their party.

The lawsuit, filed Sunday in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of California, argues that Newsom "issued an executive order purporting to rewrite the entire election code for the November 2020 election cycle."

"This brazen power grab," the complaint continues, "was not authorized by state law and violates both the Elections Clause and Electors Clause of the U.S. Constitution."

Breaking: Republicans are claiming @GavinNewsom's recent
executive order to mail every registered voter in California a ballot ahead of the November election redesigns the state’s election system.

Now, @GOP @NRCC and @CAGOP are suing to declare the move unlawful.

— Musadiq Bidar (@Bidar411) May 25, 2020

Newsom's order is "less about protecting the health of Californians and more about protecting the electoral prospects of the Governor's political party," the lawsuit alleges.

The suit maintains that the California governor does not hold the authority to "unilaterally exercise that power." The Constitution allows the "state legislatures the power to set the time, place and manner of holding elections for Congress and the President," the document read.

In a statement to Newsweek, Newsom's Press Secretary Jesse Melgar said the governor will "continue to defend Californians' right to vote, including their right to vote by mail, and the right to hold an election that is safe, secure and accessible." He added that voters should not have to choose between their health and right to vote amid the pandemic.

While the state already provides voters the right to vote-by-mail, those who wish to still need to make a request for the ballot. Newsom's recent order ensures that all registered voters will automatically receive one without making a request.

Under his order, California voters in the state will be mailed the ballot 29 days before the November election. Other Californians living outside of America will be sent their ballots 45 days prior to Election Day.

RNC Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel called Newsom's order a Democratic "plot to implement their partisan election agenda" in a statement. "Newsom's illegal power grab is a recipe for disaster that would destroy the confidence Californians deserve to have in the security of their vote," she added.

California Gov. Gavin Newsom speaks during a news conference at the California State Capitol on March 13, 2019 in Sacramento, California. Justin Sullivan/Getty