Filling out a California ballot is never an easy task, with its endless state, county, and city measures for you to weigh in on — all on top of choosing the candidate you want for various levels of office.
If you’re in the middle of filling out your ballot — or prepping to vote in person — endless voter guides are out there to help explain what ballot initiatives mean and who supports them as well as what certain candidates stand for.
But because there are so many guides, it’s hard to know which one to turn to. Instead of adding our own to the mix, we have rounded up the best voter guides already out there for Bay Area voters, including both those that are strictly nonpartisan and those that are partisan (and may align with your values).
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First, the basics
- This year, every registered voter in California was mailed a ballot. If you haven’t received yours and would like one, check that you are registered and have the right address listed. You can also check “Where’s My Ballot?” to track its status. If you are registered correctly but still haven’t received one, contact the California Secretary of State’s Elections Division.
- If you are voting in person, make sure to find your polling place. In-person voting locations may be different than in years past to make it a safe experience during the pandemic, so check before you go.
- The deadline to register online to vote in California is October 19. But if you miss that deadline, you can still register to vote at certain polling places.
Nonpartisan voter guides
The best resources from local media outlets and official city departments.
- California Official Voter Information Guide
This state-issued, comprehensive, and official voter guide should have been mailed to you with your ballot, but you can also access it online. This guide is good to consult for the basics, but the explanations can sometimes leave you with questions. You can also find the official voting guides for local measures on your city and county websites.
- San Francisco Chronicle’s 2020 Voter Guide
A nonpartisan guide to state, county, and city measures and candidates, as told by the Chronicle. This is a thorough and impressive resource, but you’ll need a subscription to access. (Pay your local journalists!)
- KQED Voter Guide
This modern, interactive, and unbiased guide is simple to use and understand. We love the simplicity and depth it provides as you navigate your ballot. This covers measures across the Bay Area.
- Berkeley Voter Guide
A guide specifically for the city of Berkeley from nonprofit news outlet Berkeleyside.
- 2020 Oakland Votes
A guide specifically for the city of Oakland from nonprofit news outlet Oaklandside.
An Illustrated Voter’s Guide to California’s 2020 State Propositions
As always, there are a lot — here’s an easy breakdown
Issue-based and partisan guides
- Black Lives Voter Guide Oakland
This guide was founded by Kevin Hill, who has lived in the Bay for 20 years. He created this resource for Black voters and anyone who wants to vote in a way that’s as aligned with the Black Lives Matter movement as possible. This guide was created by seeking input from groups like 100 Black Men, East Oakland Youth Development Center, and the State of Black Education Oakland. It includes endorsements for Oakland and California elections.
- The Queer Agenda Voting Guide 2020
Written by iconic SF drag queen Juanita Moore, this guide is centered from her perspective on local and state issues with input from the larger LGBTQ+ community.
- San Francisco League of Pissed Off Voters
This group of self-described political nerds has put together a guide to the SF ballot since 2004 — and it stems from the fact that San Franciscans have “much to be pissed off about.” “We’re a bunch of political geeks in a torrid but troubled love affair with San Francisco,” the site reads, acknowledging that it’s “thoroughly researched and thoroughly biased” for the progressive voter.
- YIMBY Action Voter Guide
This guide comes from the “Yes in My Back Yard” pro-housing advocates, who direct on measures and candidates to vote to create more inclusive housing policies and more housing in general.
- Oakland Progressive Voter Guide
This guide is created by Oakland Rising Action, a community-led political organization that engages in voter education and mobilization. The resource helps guide the progressive voter in Oakland ballot measures and elections.
- Silicon Valley Democratic Socialists of America
The DSA chapter of Silicon Valley says “We’re not a political party. We’re a community organization that’s building working class power and fighting for radical change.” Its voter guide touches on issues in cities and counties throughout the South Bay, according to its principles.