Berman introduced the legislation in the wake of April's Wisconsin primary, when Democratic efforts to expand mail voting were blocked, and local health officials identified seven people who contracted the coronavirus through election activities.
In California's March primary, 75% of voters received a vote-by-mail ballot — and a handful of counties already send a ballot to all voters.
Weeks after Berman introduced his bill, Newsom issued an executive order with the same goal of expanding vote-by-mail to all registered voters. In June, the governor followed that with another order, clarifying the vote-by-mail expansion and giving counties the option to consolidate polling places.
Assemblyman Kevin Kiley (R-Rocklin) and James Gallagher (R-Yuba City) sued Newsom, claiming his June executive order was an overreach of executive authority.
A Sutter County Superior Court judge issued an injunction against the governor's order last week, but a judge on the 3rd District Court of Appeal in Sacramento lifted the injunction on Wednesday.
Speaking on the Assembly floor Thursday, Kiley and Gallagher acknowledged that their issues with the mail ballot idea centered on process, not policy: they voted in support of AB 860, along with five other Republicans.
"No legislative process is perfect, and our particular legislative process is especially imperfect," Kiley said. "But it sure beats no process.”
The bill needed supermajority approval to become law immediately if signed, and easily cleared that hurdle by a 63-2 margin.