SAN FRANCISCO (CBS News) — Republican groups are suing California Governor Gavin Newsom, claiming his recent executive order to mail every registered voter in the state a ballot ahead of the November election is an “illegal power grab” that redesigns the election system.

The lawsuit alleges Newsom’s order is “less about protecting the health of Californians and more about protecting the electoral prospects of the Governor’s political party.”

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The Republican National Party, the National Republican Congressional Committee and the California Republican Party are listed as plaintiffs in the lawsuit, which was filed Sunday in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of California.

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“Expanding vote-by-mail during a pandemic is not a partisan issue — it’s a moral imperative to protect voting rights and public safety,” said California Secretary of State Alex Padilla in a statement. “Vote-by-mail has been used safely and effectively in red, blue, and purple states for years. This lawsuit is just another part of Trump’s political smear campaign against voting by mail. We will not let this virus be exploited for voter suppression.”

The executive order earlier this month made California the first state to in the nation to mail voters a ballot ahead of the November presidential election as a response to the coronavirus pandemic.

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