Gavin Newsom Eliminates Vote-by-Mail for Farmworker Union Elections

( – Vote-by-mail has long been a contentious issue when it comes to elections – the potential for fraud is very real and there have been numerous well-documented reports of vote-by-mail fraud during elections, especially those elections where there is a great deal at stake, such as presidential elections.

Generally speaking, the Republican stance has been that any perceived advantages of vote-by-mail are outweighed by the potential for fraud, while the Democrat position is that banning vote-by-mail would “endanger the voting rights” of the poorest and most vulnerable Americans, especially black Americans – with some senior politicians even describing the proposed banning of vote-by-mail as “Jim Crow 2.0”.

So, it was quite remarkable to see that California Governor Gavin Newsom (D) signed bill AB113 into law earlier this month. This applies to elections for union certification by farm workers and will have the effect of banning vote-by-mail. A “card check” system will be authorized instead, which allows labor organizers to approach individual workers in person to sign a card or cast a ballot.

Governor Newsom, who just happens to own a winery himself, signed the law as part of a deal that he struck with the farmworkers’ unions last year. At the time, he was under pressure from Democratic leaders including Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA).

Originally, Governor Newsom had raised objections on the basis of the vulnerability of vote-by-mail to fraud. He went so far last year as to veto a bill that would allow vote-by-mail in union elections, saying that he could not “protect the integrity of the election by supporting an untested vote-by-mail election process.”

Governor Newsom later relented following protests by farmworkers and signed a bill that would include allowing vote-by-mail, with the understanding that the vote-by-mail provision itself would be repealed within the following twelve months.

It remains to be seen whether other Democrats will follow suit and prioritize election integrity over the “endangered voting rights” of black Americans prior to the 2024 presidential elections.

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