Category Archives: California propositions

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.

Your official California Voter Information Guide – available here

By Roger Straw, October 1, 2020

Yesterday, I posted breaking news about the non-delivery of mailed copies of the California Voter Information Guide.  More about that in another post, but first, and MOST IMPORTANTLY…

The 2020 California Voter Info Guide
Click here to view it in your browser.

You will need the Voter Guide to read up on 12 State Propositions and a proposed State Bond, summary below.



  • PROP 14 Authorizes Bonds Continuing Stem Cell Research. Initiative Statute. p. 16  (See also below, pp. 78-109 for an incredibly lengthy section on the State Bond.)
  • PROP 15 Increases Funding Sources for Public Schools, Community Colleges, and Local Government Services by Changing Tax Assessment of Commercial and Industrial Property. Initiative Constitutional Amendment. p 22
  • PROP 16 Allows Diversity as a Factor in Public Employment, Education, and Contracting Decisions. Legislative Constitutional Amendment. p. 26
  • PROP 17 Restores Right to Vote After Completion of Prison Term. Legislative Constitutional Amendment. p. 30
  • PROP 18 Amends California Constitution to Permit 17-Year-Olds to Vote in Primary and Special Elections If They Will Turn 18 by the Next General Election and Be Otherwise Eligible to Vote. Legislative Constitutional Amendment. p. 34
  • PROP 19 Changes Certain Property Tax Rules. Legislative Constitutional Amendment. p. 38
  • PROP 20 Restricts Parole for Certain Offenses Currently Considered to Be Non-Violent. Authorizes Felony Sentences for Certain Offenses Currently Treated Only as Misdemeanors. Initiative Statute. p. 44
  • PROP 21 Expands Local Governments’ Authority to Enact Rent Control on Residential Property. Initiative Statute. p. 52
  • PROP 22 Exempts App-Based Transportation and Delivery Companies From Providing Employee Benefts to Certain Drivers. Initiative Statute. p. 56
  • PROP 23 Establishes State Requirements for Kidney Dialysis Clinics. Requires On-Site Medical Professional. Initiative Statute. p. 60
  • PROP 24 Amends Consumer Privacy Laws. Initiative Statute. p. 66
  • PROP 25 Referendum on Law That Replaced Money Bail With System Based on Public Safety and Flight Risk. p. 72


Again, go here to view the Guide on the CA Secretary of State website.  (And in case that doesn’t work, I have also saved a copy you may access here on the BenIndy website – click here.)


Here’s all you need to know about
how and when to cast your Solano County ballot.

BREAKING: Non-delivery of California Voter Information Guide

“…everyone is very jumpy about this election and not to have information in a timely manner is problematic.”  – Constance Beutel

By Roger Straw, September 30, 2020
Click the image to download the online version of the official Voter Guide.

People are voting already, but many are doing so without the aid of the official California Voter Information Guide that details state races and propositions.  The guide is mailed to voters before every election, and reportedly went out in “early September.”

Constance Beutel alerted me this afternoon.  She had been watching for her Voter Guide, checked around, and found others here in Benicia in the same situation.

Beutel phoned the offices of our County Supervisor Monica Brown, State Senator Dodd, and State Assembly Representative Tim Grayson and found out that some if not all staff there had also not received their Voter Guide!  All said they would look into it.

Stay tuned…

With permission, here is Beutel’s letter to Tim Grayson staffer Jana Modena:

Sent: Wednesday, Sept. 30, 2020, 01:56:16 PM PDT
Subject: No Official Voter Information Guide

I’ve just spoken with Tom Bartee letting him know that I have not received the official California Voter Information Guide. I am not the only one in Benicia in this situation. I do have my official ballot.

I called my County Supervisor’s office and learned that the Sec of State sends this guide out so I then called the Sec of State’s office and waited about 20 minutes to speak to the elections division. I was then told that the guides were mailed in early September and a guide would be mailed to me within the next 5 to 10 days. I asked if this would also apply to all of Benicia. The woman who was answering the phone said, “no.”

Mr. Bartee indicated that he had not received his guide either.

As we all know, everyone is very jumpy about this election and not to have information in a timely manner is problematic!

Please let the Assemblyman know of this problem and expedite a solution.

I await your reply.

thank you


LETTER SERIES: Pat Toth-Smith – Vote for the Environment (Sierra Club endorsements)

[Editor: Benicians are expressing themselves in letters to the editor of our local print newspaper, the Benicia Herald. But the Herald doesn’t publish letters in its online editions – and many Benician’s don’t subscribe. We are posting certain letters here for wider distribution. – RS]

A Vote for the Environment, Sierra Club endorses Elizabeth Patterson for Mayor, Steve Young & Tom Campbell for City Council

By Pat Toth-Smith
October 16, 2016

The election is upon us and it’s been a complete disappointment where global climate change is concerned. After having signed three petitions to have a question about climate change specifically put to the presidential and vice presidential candidates during their debates, it sadly did not happen. To my disappointment in researching the candidates’ positions on climate change I discovered that Donald Trump doesn’t believe in the science of climate change and went so far as to say, “that it is a hoax put out by the Chinese Government”, in one of his tweets. Mike Pence, as I understand, won’t accept climate change as real. I feel it is important if you’re a believer in the science of climate change and want to move the United States to a clean energy future, to be aware of which candidates are most committed to that.

Thankfully, the Sierra Club has completed a list of environmental endorsements, which I want to share, starting with our local city government election.

The Sierra Club endorses:

• Benicia Mayor Elizabeth Patterson,
• Benicia City Council Steve Young and Tom Campbell
• District 2 Supervisor Mike Ioakimedes
• Assembly District 14 Mae Torlakson
• Fairfield City Council Pam Bertani
• Vallejo Mayor Bob Sampayan
• Vallejo City Council Liat Metzenheimer
• President Hillary Clinton
• Senator Kamala Harris
• Congressman Mike Thompson

The state propositions that the Sierra club endorses are as follows:

• Prop 56, cigarette tax: YES
• Prop 58, multilingual education: YES
• Prop 59, oppose Citizens United: YES
• Prop 67, plastic bag ban: YES

As a Benicia resident, I’ve had the unique opportunity of seeing Mayor Elizabeth Patterson in action. She was tireless in her effort to keep the public informed about the Valero Crude By Rail permit process as it progressed, whereas her opponent, publically attacked her for it. She is also a big proponent of the Community Sustainability Commission which promoted Marin Clean Energy (MCE) and gave a grant to study any risk to our city. My family and I are grateful because we now pay to power our home with 100% renewable energy from MCE. MCE also gave a check for over $100,000 to the city this year for net energy from the city’s solar panels.

During my three year process of participating to stop the Valero crude by rail project, I was able to observe Planning Commissioner Steve Young’s outstanding commitment to doing his due diligence in researching all aspects for the permit request. He did a very thorough job of questioning all concerned and it made me content in his abilities to protect Benicia from all future dangerous projects. I am also grateful to Mayor Patterson and council member Campbell for publicly stating their rejection of this dangerous project the day the city council was supposed to vote on it. In my estimation, they were putting our community’s safety first, regardless of the Surface Transportation Boards ruling.

Pat Toth-Smith
Sierra Club link:
Local Sierra Club Chapter link: