The story behind your missing California Voter Information Guide

By Roger Straw, October 1, 2020

In every previous year, prior to the November election, voters have received a mailed hard copy of the California Voter Information Guide.

The Guide is not being mailed this year unless you request one, and most voters have no idea that this is necessary.

An online version is available, but again, most voters are not aware, first that such a thing exists, and second how to find it. (

Here in Benicia, two vigilant and persistent residents uncovered the story, as follows:

Constance Beutel contacted our elected representatives, as previously reported here on the Benicia Independent, and found that one can access the Voter Guide online from the California Secretary of State, but that it may not have been mailed to voters this year.

This was followed by  phone calls and email correspondence from Colleen Higgins of Benicia.  Quoting Colleen, with permission:

With the mantra VOTE EARLY! we received our ballots on September 28 WITHOUT the usual California Voter Information Guide, including text of proposed laws / pros and cons.  We only received the local Solano County Voter Guide.

After numerous phone calls over two days to offices of the Solano County Registrar of Voters and the California Secretary of State, this is what I know.

First, my tone and concern was not to blame or point fingers but to clarify, plead for and maximize the voter information packet to ensure a ‘well formed citizenry.’  Per Secretary of State, on page 109 of a 112 page ONLINE version of the Voter Guide, voters are informed that the law changed in 2018, such that the text of proposed laws is no longer auto mailed.  The voter must call/text/email a request to the Secretary of State for a mailed copy. [This on page 109 of the un-mailed Guide!]

From page 109 of the 2020 California Voter Guide

Neither Solano County nor the Secretary of State have a highly visible advisory of this big change on their websites.

And one last confusing piece is that Solano received the Secretary of State copy of proposed bills and they will be mailed out separately to Solano voters ‘soon.

So I asked that they consider texting all voters of the change in procedures so that no one, based on income, fires, pandemic be partially disenfranchised from voting the full California ballot.

Seems like there was a disconnect between Secretary of State and Counties.

I sincerely hope this is resolved quickly.

Colleen Higgins, Benicia

Many thanks to Constance and Colleen for digging up the background on this story.

Surely this information was made available somewhere other than in the Voter Guide itself…the Voter Guide which we all expected to receive but didn’t.  Surely, right?  But I follow State and Local political races, and I don’t recall having seen public announcement or other notification.  Like me, the general public must be clueless.

I’m posting the link here (again) so you can now access the California Voter Information Guide, at the Secretary of State, or here on the BenIndy.