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Election November 2020 Progressive Voter Action Guide

(Guía Progresiva de Votaciones Noviembre 2020)


The most important election in our lifetime.
It will be decided by mostly by turnout, but also by how much cheating and dirty tricks are prevented.
Young people, brown people, and democrats don't bother to vote as much as old, white, republicans. Besides voting yourself, broadcast the call for everyone you know to vote, donate to combat voter suppression, and take action for critical races around the country.
Every race matters. Republicans are using obscure offices like "secretary of state" to suppress voting, and to tilt the playing field to the rich, school boards to misinform children.

Focused on Santa Barbara, CA. You can figure out much about other local races by checking the sources.

Explanation is given only where the choice was not obvious, or the effect of particular interest.


VOTE-early in person, on election day, or drop your mail-in ballot in a drop box—due to messing with the USPS, it's too late now to mail it in.


  1. RIGHT NOW Confirm your voter registration is current—in California, or anywhere else in US. Not tomorrow…do this now, while there is capacity to process any changes.
  2. Sign up NOW for tracking your mail in ballot (link for California
  3. VOTE—drop your mail in your ballot in an OFFICIAL drop box, or turn it in at a polling place—having your vote counted by election day, rather than after will help reduce chaos.

More info


Focused on Santa Barbara, CA. You can figure out much about other local races by checking the sources.

Explanation is given only where the choice was not obvious, or the effect of particular interest.


=President, Vice President=

=United States Representative=

=State Senator=

=State Assembly=

=Santa Barbara County Board of Education=

=Santa Barbara Community College District=

=Santa Barbara Unified School District; vote for three=

Governing board member

=Goleta Union School District Board of Education; vote for two=

=Goleta Mayor=

=Goleta City Council=

=Goleta WaterDistrict; vote for two=


=Measures submitted to voters=

sources and notes on on propositions below




Donate to progressive candidates as if your life depends on it. We’re going all out on donations this year. Make an account at Act Blue (links below) so you donate again and again with a few clicks, each time it sinks in deeper how mission-critical this election is. The number of people donating make a difference as well as the amount of $, so even if you have little $ these are worth order of importance:

  1. Immediate impact—automatically prioritized to the closest races. This is the best single spot to donate at this late hour.
  2. Flip the Senate  is an extremely important cause worth pouring funds into; supreme court confirmations, presidential oversight...not to mention legislation. 
  3. Biden-Harris The presidency is also obviously key
  4. Donate to support Native American voting in North Dakota—the battle to win back the Senate may be decided in two majority Native American counties in North Dakota, where the State is going all out to suppress the Native vote 
  5. Wisconsin democrats--a critical swing state
  6. Break the gerrymander!--if dems win state assemblies in this redistricting year...that will hep for the next ten years until the next census! If we'd been thinking as long term as the republicans we'd be in less trouble today...
  7. Hold the house!—We are unlikely to lose ground here, but still need to do the work
  8. Stop Trump’s Theft of the Electoral College Last week, Speaker Nancy Pelosi began mobilizing Democrats for the possibility that neither Joe Biden nor President Donald Trump will win an outright Electoral College victory, a once-in-a-century phenomenon that would send the fate of the presidency to the House of Representatives to decide. Under that scenario, every state’s delegation gets a single vote. Who receives that vote is determined by an internal tally of each lawmaker in the delegation. This means the presidency may not be decided by the party that controls the House itself but by the one that controls more state delegations in the chamber. And right now, Republicans control 26 delegations to Democrats’ 22, with Pennsylvania tied and Michigan a 7-6 plurality for Democrats, with a 14th seat held by independent Justin Amash. If Democrats can flip one congressional seat in Pennsylvania, Florida, and Montana, they can prevail over any attempt to undo the election results through subverting the Electoral College outcome.
    House seats we need to flip to turn the PA, FL, and MT delegations BLUE: 
              Pennsylvania - 1st District, Democratic challenger, Christina Finello
              Pennsylvania - 10th District, Democratic challenger, Eugene DePasquale
              Florida - 15th District, Democratic challenger, Alan Cohn
              Florida - 16th District, Democratic challenger, Margaret Good
              Montana - One House seat, Democratic challenger, Kathleen Williams 



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After Election Case of an Illegal Attempt to Hold Power

Hold the Line: A Guide to Defending Democracy


I find the State voter guide pretty useless; it's just competitng sales pitches, which are often totally misleading. More instructive is who is supporting what, and why:



Research notes on some particularly tricky propositions

Prop 21-Rent control-No

Similar to the Independent; we are still absorbing the consequences of state rent control, lets see how that goes before tinkering more. Examples of unintended consequences of some of the the local rent control under discussion on our own efforts to be benign landlords:

Prop 23-Dialysis-No

Why—Would make dialysis more expensive, harming patients, by requiring the unnecessary presence of a doctor at all hours.  This is a second abuse of the proposition system to resolve the same labor dispute after a similar measure was rejected by voters two years ago. 

How this is confounding for progressives: A powerful union supports this measure, as does the Democratic Party, which generally allies itself with unions. Usually we would vote with unions against corporations…but with this particular move it looks like it is the union which is more in the wrong, and that this measure would hurt people who need dialysis more than it would help.


Editorial: Vote no on Prop. 23, a rehash of ugly labor dispute …

Endorsement: No on Prop 23. It would raise costs and not improve kidney patients’ care—LA times editorial board

Proposition 23 is opposed by a long list of patient advocates, medical professionals and other civic groups; the only endorsements its proponents tout are those from the California Labor Federation and the California Democratic Party. 

General information; support/ oppose/ funding from CalMatters

Prop 24-electronic privacy-Yes…reluctantly

Why—This flawed, messy proposition is a mixed bag of steps forward and backward. The main argument in favor of it is that it keeps the California data privacy law from being undermined while we’re working for a better solution (this law was barely saved last year). The $10M for enforcement could address a major limitation in the current system; almost complete lack of resources to pursue offenders. It is at least an attempt to beat back the incursions of powerful tech companies. Reasonable progressives could for sure disagree on this one.


...You can’t understand Prop. 24 without first understanding how lame the CCPA turned out to be. The law was intended to give Californians the right to know what data businesses are collecting about them, to opt out of the sale of that data, and to make businesses delete the data they’ve already gathered. But those rights are mostly theoretical, thanks to a handful of missteps by the law’s drafters.

...The biggest disagreements over Prop. 24 are interpretive. The initiative comprises 52 pages of dense legal language, addressing highly technical concepts, with subsections and intricate cross-references that even experts admit they struggle to follow. That convoluted language has led to sharply different opinions about what the initiative would actually do—whether, in crucial respects, it would expand consumer privacy or restrict it. makes enough changes to existing law (which stays in place if the proposition fails) that it could alter the balance of power with data-hungry corporations. There’s just little agreement on whether those changes are, added up, better for consumers or corporations — or just kind of a wash. And whatever California does on privacy could end up becoming a floor for data rights across the country, because it’s hard for companies to treat Californians differently.   

The CPRA shows how messy privacy policy can become when advocates themselves can’t agree on how hard to push, or who gets to lead the charge. That should be a warning to other states considering privacy laws, as well as those hoping for a federal one.  

...supporters say that if voters don’t approve Prop. 24, California’s privacy protections might not survive long enough for another measure to be put on the ballot.

...At its core, the dispute is a philosophical schism about whether control over personal data should be treated as a civil right or a property right. Opponents of Prop. 24 say treating data as a commodity creates a system where the poorest people cannot afford to opt out. However, Alastair Mactaggart and Yang argue that removing any monetary value associated with data could close the door to people eventually being compensated for use of their information. “This is why these companies are so valuable, because they know so much more about you than any entity, any government,” Mactaggart said. “There’s tremendous power in this data.” Yang has long pushed the concept of a “data dividend,” which would require tech companies to pay people for using their personal information. Prop. 24 leaves the pathway open for such a concept.

EFF works across the country to enact and defend laws that empower technology users to control how businesses process their personal information. The bestconsumer data privacy laws require businesses to get consumers’ opt-in consent before processing their data; bar data processing except as necessary to give consumers what they asked for (often called “data minimization”); forbid “pay for privacy” schemes that pressure all consumers, and especially those with lower incomes, to surrender their privacy rights; and let consumers sue businesses that break these rules. In California, we’ve worked with other privacy advocates to try to pass these kinds of strengthening amendments to our existing California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA).

Prop 24 does not do enough to advance the data privacy of California consumers. It is a mixed bag of partial steps backwards and forwards. It includes some but not most of the strengthening amendments urged by privacy advocates. 

Good News: ACLU Calls On Californians To VOTE NO On Bogus 'Consumer Privacy' Proposition 24

Prop 25 (eliminating bail system) – Yes

Why—prop 25 is a step in the right direction, away from a system where you stay in jail while awaiting trial if poor, leave if rich. It would also get the corrosive influence of the bail industry out of the picture (see first article for an indictment of their sneaky tactics in opposition to prop 25, enlisting the head of the CA NAACP). While algorithms may not be bias-free, they are free of the guaranteed bias of cash bail, and are an easier target for improvement. 


California NAACP president aids corporate prop campaigns — collects $1.2 million and counting—CalMatters

Read through the voter handbook for California’s November election, and a name pops up over and over again: Alice Huffman. As leader of the California NAACP, Huffman has weighed in with positions that critics say run counter to the historic civil rights organization’s mission to advance racial equality in education, housing and criminal justice…

...What the guide doesn’t tell voters is that Huffman’s political consulting firm has been paid more than $1.2 million so far this year by ballot measure campaigns that she or the California NAACP has endorsed. She’s been paid by campaigns funded by commercial property owners fighting the tax increase, corporate landlords opposed to expanding rent control and bail bondsmen who want to keep the cash bail system.

Endorsement: Yes on Proposition 25 to end bail and the poverty penalty—LA times

There is something repugnant, and corrosive to our collective notion of justice, about allowing people without money to stay locked up in jail while others, accused of the same crimes but with money to spend, can buy their way out. That’s bail in a nutshell. It’s a mechanism to divide the privileged from the punished in the earliest phase of a criminal proceeding, long before any judge or jury makes a finding of guilt or innocence. It is the ultimate insult to our justice system’s claim that all stand equal before the law, and that all are presumed innocent until proved guilty.

California has been trying to rid itself of money bail for decades, but every effort has been turned back by the bail bond industry and the insurance companies that support them.

...SB 10 and other laws adopted in its wake include processes for monitoring compliance, correcting problems and working out the kinks in the interests of justice. The mandate to analyze pretrial detention data will provide a long-overdue examination of California court operations and disparities among counties. Proposition 25 is an important step toward better justice.