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The Courage California Voter Guide compiles the information that allows you to make informed decisions about the races on your ballot, based on your values. Vote in every race on your ballot! It's our right and our responsibility. Please share this guide with your friends and family.

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Congress, 1st Congressional District

Member of the House of Representatives

  • Elect Audrey Denney to push CA-01 in the right direction.

    About the Position

    The United States is divided into 435 congressional districts, each with a population of about 710,000 individuals. Each district elects a representative to the House of Representatives for a two-year term. California has 53 congressional representatives. There is no term limit for this position.

    About the District

    California’s 1st Congressional District includes Butte, Lassen, Modoc, Plumas, Shasta, Sierra, Siskiyou, and Tehama counties, with portions of Glenn, Nevada, and Placer counties. Republicans have held this district since 2013, when the incumbent Rep. LaMalfa flipped CA-01 red.In the 2016 presidential election, Donald Trump won 56 percent of the vote in CA-01, with 37 percent for Hillary Clinton and 7 percent for third-party candidates. In the 2020 gubernatorial election, 39 percent of the CA-01 voters cast their ballot for Gavin Newsom and 61 percent cast their ballot for the Republican candidate. In the 2020 presidential primary, 46 percent of CA-01 voted for a Democratic candidate and 55 percent voted for a Republican candidate.

    About the Race

    In the primary, Democrat challenger Audrey Denney trailed Republican Incumbent Doug LaMalfa by 15.2 percent. In the 2018 election, Rep. LaMalfa won by a 10-point margin over Denney.

    Denney’s campaign is mainly funded by large individual contributions, accounting for 98 percent of total contributions, according to campaign materials. Additionally, 67.9 percent of Denney’s campaign contributions were in-district contributions, a stark difference from Rep. LaMalfa’s 25.9 percent in-district contributions.

    Denney has not accepted any corporate Super PAC donations, fossil fuel money, or police money. Meanwhile, Rep. LaMalfa’s campaign is backed by the Majority Committee PAC, which is dedicated to winning a Republican majority in the House of Representatives. Rep. LaMalfa has accepted contributions from the energy, automatic, pharmaceutical, air travel, railroad, and pistachio industries, with nearly $30,000 from the oil and gas industries. He is endorsed by the California Pro-Life Council, California Republican Assembly,  National Rifle Association, and Peace Officers Research Association of California.

    About the Candidate

    Audrey Denney grew up in Central California and was active in 4-H, later serving as a California FFA State Officer. According to campaign materials, she is running for Congress because CA-01 needs a representative who is effective and will fight for their best interests, not those of corporations.

    Denney earned her bachelor’s and master’s degrees in agricultural education at CSU Chico, and taught agriculture at CSU Chico for six years. Denney currently works as a senior learning designer at Vivayic, designing agricultural curricula for worldwide companies and nonprofits. In her free time, Denney serves on Bidwell Presbyterian Church’s mission committee and on the board of directors for Cristosal, a human rights organization.

    Denney’s priorities for CA-01, if elected, include expanding Medicare, investing in education, improving water infrastructure, protecting farmers and immigrant workers, securing maternity leave, reforming immigration to provide a path of legalization for immigrants already living and working here, and promoting gun-safety legislation.

    Denney is endorsed by many progressive groups and unions, such as California Democratic Party, SEIU California, California Teachers Association, Planned Parenthood Action Fund, Moms Demand Action, and Equality California. At this time, Denny does not have any problematic endorsements.  According to our analysis, Audrey Denney is the strongest choice for equitable and representative leadership in office.


    Audrey Denney

    Elect Audrey Denney to push CA-01 in the right direction.

    About the Position

    The United States is divided into 435 congressional districts, each with a population of about 710,000 individuals.

    Last updated: 2020-09-23

State Senator, 1st District

Member of the State Senate

  • Elect Pamela Swartz to push SD-01 in the right direction.

    About the Position

    State senators represent and advocate for the needs of their district at the California State Capitol. They are responsible for creating legislation that addresses issues within their district, as well as voting and debating on preexisting laws. The California State Senate has 40 congressional districts. Each represents a population of about 930,000 people. Representatives are elected to the Senate for a four-year term. Every two years, half of the Senate’s 40 seats are subject to election. Members elected before 2012 are restricted to two four-year terms (eight years) in the Senate. Those elected in or after 2012 are allowed to serve 12 years total across both the state Senate or Assembly. This term, Democrats currently hold a two-thirds supermajority of 29 seats in the California State Senate, while Republicans hold 11 seats.

    About the District

    California’s 1st Senate District includes all of Alpine, El Dorado, Lassen, Modoc, Nevada, Sierra, Siskiyou, Plumas, and Shasta Counties. Additionally, the district includes a large portion of Placer County and a small portion of Sacramento County. Notable cities include Folsom, South Lake Tahoe, and Roseville. Republicans typically hold this district, and it has not had a Democrat representative for over 40 years. The most recent election results show SD-01 voted for Donald Trump for president in 2016 and John Cox for governor in 2018. SD-01 is the most GOP-leaning district in Northern California.

    About the Race

    In the primary, Democrat challenger Pamela Swartz trailed Republican Incumbent Representative Brian Dahle by a margin of 21.6 percent. Swartz’s campaign is not funded by corporate PAC, fossil fuel, or police money. Swartz’s campaign has raised $25,000 and is funded mainly through individual donors. Her campaign has not received corporate, fossil fuel, or police money. Swartz has pledged to refuse fossil fuel and corporate PAC donations; she has not committed to the #NoCopMoneyCA pledge. Opposing candidate Brian Dahle’s campaign has raised over $97,000 and is largely funded through corporate, fossil fuel, and law-enforcement donations. Notably, his campaign has received multiple donations from the Peace Officers Research Association of California, the largest law-enforcement organization in California. In the past, Dahle has also received substantial police donations under coded names, such as Taxfighters for Brian Dahle. In addition, his campaign has been funded by large fossil fuel corporations, including BP, Chevron, Sempra Energy, and Pacificorp.

    About the Candidate

    Pamela Swartz grew up in Redding, CA, and currently resides in Nevada County. Both areas are located in SD-01. According to campaign materials, she is running for office to better represent the district’s needs for improved health care, housing, economic, and education systems.

    Swartz is a small-business owner who believes the rural communities of SD-01 have been underserved and not strongly represented for too long. She is not beholden to any corporations or special interests, and she says her business experience and educational background in forestry/wildlife provide a unique skill set that will aid her as a state senator. Swartz has spoken out in support of single-payer health care; natural resources management, including reducing the dangers of wildfires; supporting the local farming and tourism economies; and affordable housing.

    Pamela Swartz is endorsed by many progressive groups, including the California Nurses Association, Everytown for Gun Safety, and Health Care for All--California. Additionally, Swartz has received endorsements from many labor unions, the California Democratic Party, local Indivisible chapters, and many local women’s associations. Her Republican opponent, Brian Dahle, has received high ratings from regressive organizations, like the National Rifle Association and Gun Owners of California. He scored just 9 out of 100 on this year’s Courage Score, our annual analysis of legislators’ progressive voting records. Senator Dahle is not serving his constituents with progressive solutions, while Swartz has the support of the local progressive community, a compelling campaign platform, and has already demonstrated a commitment to fiscal transparency. According to our analysis, Pamela Swartz is the strongest choice for equitable and representative leadership in office.


    Pamela Swartz

    Elect Pamela Swartz to push SD-01 in the right direction.

    About the Position

    State senators represent and advocate for the needs of their district at the California State Capitol.

    Last updated: 2020-09-23

Statewide Ballot Measures

Proposition #15

Vote YES on Prop 15

Vote YES on Prop 15 to provide between $6.4 billion to $11.5 billion in additional funding to local schools and governments. 

Proposition 15 asks California voters to raise an estimated $6.4 billion to $11.5 billion in funding for local schools and governments by increasing property taxes on commercial and industrial properties based on current market value instead of the price they were purchased for. Based on the most recent report by Blue Sky Consulting Group, 10% of the biggest corporate property owners will pay 92% of the funding and more than 75% of total revenues will come from properties that have not been reassessed since prior to 1990 -- just 2% of all commercial and industrial properties! Proposition 15 will maintain the existing commercial and industrial property tax at a 1% limit and will also maintain existing exemptions for small businesses, homeowners, agricultural lands, and renters.

Why voting YES on Prop 15 matters:

  • California public schools continue to be underfunded and communities of color continue to be impacted the most. Prop 15 is a way to invest in our communities without having to raise taxes on small businesses, renters, and homeowners. In light of the COVID-19 pandemic and its economic fallout, California needs this funding from corporations who have not been paying their fair share of taxes.
  • California ranked 41st (with adjusted cost of living) out of all states and Washington, D.C. in spending per K-12 student (California Budget & Policy Center). 
  • California is ranked 51st in three categories: number of K-12 students per teacher, number of K-12 students per guidance counselor, and number of K-12 students per librarian (National Education Association / National Center for Education Statistics).

Misinformation about Prop 15 includes:

  • "It hurts small businesses" -- FALSE. Prop 15 maintains all existing exemptions for small businesses, homeowners, renters, and agricultural land.
  • "It taxes working families" -- FALSE. Prop 15 will predominantly affect corporations who have not been paying their fair share of taxes.
  • "It is a step towards repealing Prop 13" -- FALSE. - Prop 15 actively maintains the exemptions Prop 13 secured.
  • "Small business operations from home aren’t protected under Prop 15" -- FALSE. Prop 15’s exemptions for businesses and homeowners apply to small business operations at home. 

Primary Funders of Prop 15 include:

Prop 15’s main opponents include realty and industrial property owners, while there is overwhelming financial support from the California Teachers Association and SEIU California State Council.

Top Funders

Last updated: 2020-09-10

Proposition #16

Vote YES on Prop 16

Vote YES on Prop 16 to repeal 1996’s Prop 209 and reinstate affirmative action in the state.

Proposition 16 asks California voters to amend the Constitution of California to repeal Prop 209’s restrictions on local and state governments from considering race, sex, color, ethnicity, or national origin in public employment, education, and contracting. If passed, Prop 16 will permit governments to consider those protected categories in order to promote inclusive hiring and admissions programs in California’s public universities, government, and public agencies.

Why voting YES on Prop 16 matters:

  • It is time that California follows the other 42 states that have taken gender, race, ethnicity, and national origin into account for college admissions and hiring in government and public agencies.
  • Prop 209’s affirmative action ban resulted in an over $820 million loss every year in Minority- and Women-Owned Business Enterprise Program (MWBE) contracts with the state of California.
  • Reports conclude that the percentage of contracts granted to MWBEs never returned to pre-Prop 209 levels. Restoring affirmative action is the next step in building a more equitable and diverse future for California.
  • The University of California’s analysis of Prop 209 revealed that affirmative action had increased the population of underrepresented students by at least 12 percent, with the largest effects seen at UCLA and Berkeley.

Misinformation about Prop 15 includes:

  • "Gains for women of color in workforce diversity have already been addressed." -- FALSE. Women of color continue to face systemic racism in the wage gap and earn an estimated $946,120 less than white men over a 40-year career.
  • "Black civil workers are overrepresented." -- FALSE. According to the 2018 Civil Service Census of California employees, Black Californians made up 5.5 percent of the total population and 9.8 percent of the total civil-service workforce, compared to white Californians, who made up 37 percent of the total population but 43.5 percent of the total civil-service workforce.
  • "Colleges and universities would be able to use racial quotas." -- FALSE. Racial quotas for university admissions have been outlawed as unconstitutional since Regents of the University of California v. Bakke in 1978.

Top Funders of Prop 15 include:

  • Opposition to Prop 16 is sponsored by Students for Fair Admissions, Inc., which contributed to the Californians for Equal Rights committee.
  • Support for Prop 16 is largely financed by philanthropists M. Quinn Delaney and Patty Quillin, California Nurses Association Initiative PAC, California Works (a project of California Labor Federation AFL-CIO), and Elizabeth Cabraser.
Last updated: 2020-08-28

Proposition #17

Vote YES on Prop 17

Vote YES on Prop 17 to restore voting rights to Californians on parole. 

Proposition 17 asks California voters to amend the Constitution of California to restore voting rights to persons who have been disqualified from voting while on parole. If passed, Prop 17 will restore voting rights to approximately 50,000 Californians currently on parole.

Why voting YES on Prop 17 matters:

  • California is one of the 31 states that do not automatically restore voting rights upon completion of a person’s sentence. In Maine and Vermont, there are no laws that disenfranchise and discriminate against people with criminal convictions even when they’re still serving out their sentences.
  • Parolees who are reintegrating into society resume other civic responsibilities, such as paying taxes and jury duty. Being barred from voting while paying taxes is taxation without representation.
  • In 2017, Black Californians made up 28% of all prison populations despite only making up 6% of California’s total population. With an astonishing and horrifying incarceration rate at 8 times the rate of white Californians, it is clear that the disenfranchisement of parolees is the disenfranchisement of Black voters.

Misinformation about Prop 17 includes:

  • "Voting is a privilege" -- FALSE. Voting is a right, not privilege. Projecting voting as a privilege and not a right inherently undermines our democracy. 
  • "Individuals who have not completed their parole period have not completed their sentence" -- FALSE. As soon as a person completes their sentence in prison, they are released into their parole period in order to reintegrate into society. The sentence in prison and parole period are two separate phases.

Top Funders of Prop 17 include:

There are no contributions recorded for support or opposition to Prop 17.

Last updated: 2020-08-28

Proposition #18

Vote YES on Prop 18

Vote YES on Prop 18 to allow 17-year-olds to vote in the primary election if they will turn 18 by the following general election.

Proposition 18 asks California voters to amend the Constitution of California to allow 17-year-olds to vote in the primary election if they will turn 18 by the following general election. At the age of 18, Californians are technically given the right to vote in all elections. A subset are currently prohibited from voting at 18 if they are 17 during the primary election. Prop 18 amends the constitutional loophole that prevents all 18-year-olds from being able to vote in general elections.

Why voting YES on Prop 18 matters:

  • Nineteen other states, including D.C., allow 17-year-olds to vote in the primary election if they will be 18 by the general election.
  • Research has proven time and again that voting is habit-forming. These states recognize the importance of allowing 18-year-olds to vote, to help form their voting habits and amplify their voices.

Top Funders of Prop 18 include:

There are no recorded contributions in support of or opposition to Prop 18.

Misinformation about Prop 18 includes:

There is no prominent misinformation about Prop 18.

Last updated: 2020-08-28

Proposition #19

Vote NO on Prop 19

Vote NO on Proposition 19 to maintain property tax savings for all inherited properties and property tax savings eligibility for some homeowners who are over 55 and meet other qualifications.

Proposition 19 asks voters to amend sections of 1978’s Proposition 13 to increase the number of times a property tax base can be transferred to three times for longtime homeowners. Prop 19 is almost exactly the same as Proposition 5, which was on the 2018 California ballot and overwhelmingly defeated by voters, with 60 percent having voted against the proposition. The main difference in the proposition this year is that Prop 19 includes an additional amendment to Prop 13 that narrows an existing inheritance property tax break and promises to distribute any revenue generated from that amendment toward fire protection agencies and schools.

Why voting NO on Prop 19 matters
  • Proposition 19 widens the generational wealth gap by giving homeowners older than 55 and other qualified groups a way to keep property tax breaks they receive for having bought their homes decades ago if they move anywhere else in the state, up to three times. They can also keep that break if they move to a more expensive property.
  • Proposition 13 caps most property tax rates at 1 percent of a home’s sale price and holds annual increases in assessed value to 2 percent or less. This means people who purchased their home a few decades ago already pay significantly less property tax than newer homeowners. Prop 19 further builds the wealth of longtime homeowners and denies wealth-building opportunities to people who don’t own a home or who may be struggling to buy one.
  • While Prop 19 does eliminate a $1 million property tax exemption for parent-to-child transfers and could potentially generate state revenue that would be distributed to fire protection agencies and schools, this amendment is being paired with the primary tax break for longtime homeowners to make it more appealing.
Top Funders of Prop 19

Realtor associations have contributed $36,270,000 in support of Prop 19. There is no registered financial opposition.


There is no prominent misinformation about Proposition 19.


Last updated: 2020-09-24

Proposition #20

Vote NO on Prop 20

Vote NO on Prop 20 to protect criminal justice reforms and constitutional rights to privacy.

If passed, Prop 20 increases penalties for low-level offenses and would create a state database that collects DNA samples from persons convicted of specified misdemeanors for use in cold cases by repealing parts of Props 47 and 57. Prop 20 would expand the list of offenses that disqualify inmates from a parole program, consider an individual’s collective criminal history and not just their most recent offense, and impose stronger restrictions for a nonviolent offender’s parole program. Additionally, Prop 20 would reclassify theft between $250 and $950 as a felony.

Why voting NO on Prop 20 matters:

  • Prop 20 is a dangerous proposition put forth by Courage Score Hall of Shame Assemblymember Jim Cooper, and it is sponsored by Courage Score Hall of Shame Assemblymember Vince Fong. Time and again, Assemblymembers Cooper and Fong vote to protect police brutality and discriminatory criminal justice policies. Both voted no on AB 1600, which would expedite access to police misconduct records for a trial.
  • Association for L.A. Deputy Sheriffs, L.A. Police Protective League, and the Peace Officers Research Association of California all support and have heavily financed Prop 20.
  • Prop 20 would increase recidivism by removing positive incentives from Prop 57.
  • Parole review boards would consider an individual’s entire criminal history, not just the offense they are on parole for, when deciding to release a person convicted of a felony on parole.

Top Funders of Prop 20:

  • Three police unions are the top funders in support of Prop 20, including the CA Correctional Peace Officers Association, the Association for LA Deputy Sheriffs, and the LA Police Protective League Issues PAC.
  • Philanthropists are the top funders of campaigns against Prop 20, including the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative, Patty Quillin, and Stacy Schusterman.

Misinformation about Prop 20:

  • "Criminals are getting away with more violent crimes." -- FALSE. The nonpartisan Public Policy Institute of California found that Prop 47, which Prop 20 attempts to roll back, not only decreased racial disparities in bookings and arrests, but also found that violent crimes did not increase after it was passed.


Last updated: 2020-08-28

Proposition #21

Vote YES on Prop 21

Vote YES on Prop 21 to allow cities and counties to establish and regulate rent control.

Proposition 21 asks voters to amend state law in order to allow (not require) local governments at the city and county levels to establish and regulate rent control on residential properties. This proposition would affect residential properties over 15 years old and exempts individuals who own up to two residential properties. Additionally, Prop 21 would allow rent in rent-controlled properties to increase up to 15 percent over a period of three years with the start of a new tenancy. Prop 21 is more or less the same proposition voters rejected in 2018.

Why voting YES on Prop 21 matters:

California has the highest rate of homelessness in the nation, which can be attributed to the overwhelmingly high median rates for rent throughout the state forcing residents to pay 50 percent of their income just toward rent.
The Costa-Hawkins Rental Housing Act prohibits rent control on residential properties built after February 1, 1995. Since then, housing built in California has become accessible only to those who can afford uncontrolled rent increases, and low-income families have largely been shut out from newer housing developments.
According to a Stanford study, those who lived in rent-controlled properties when Costa-Hawkins passed ended up saving a cumulative total of $7 billion over 18 years, which confirms that rent control is an effective way to prevent displacement from the city.

Misinformation about Prop 21 includes:

  • "Makes the housing crisis worse." -- FALSE. With one in three Californians paying 50 percent of their income just for rent, Prop 21 offers local governments the opportunity to prevent displacement, and as a result, prevent homelessness. A person who experiences homelessness will cost taxpayers an average of $35,578, and chronic homelessness generally costs around $100,000.
  • "Removes a landlord’s right to profit." -- FALSE. Prop 21 actually guarantees a landlord’s right to profit.
  • "California just passed AB 1482, which went into effect in January of this year, so California doesn’t need any more rent laws." -- FALSE AB 1482 only affects residential properties built after 2005, and according to Zillow’s analysis, only 7 percent of renters would have benefited from AB 1482’s rent cap in 2018.

Top Funders of Prop 21 include:

  • Three of the top 10 property owners in Silicon Valley (Prometheus Real Estate Group, Inc., Essex Property Trust, and Equity Residential) have contributed over $10 million in opposition to Prop 21.
  • The leading funder in support of Prop 21 is the AIDS Healthcare Foundation, and its housing advocacy division Housing Is A Human Right is a leading sponsor of the Rental Affordability Act.
Last updated: 2020-08-28

Proposition #22

Vote NO on Prop 22

Vote NO on Prop 22 to protect labor rights and classify app-based drivers as employees, not contractors.

Proposition 22 asks voters to classify ride-share and delivery companies as independent contractors, not employees. Additionally, Prop 22 would restrict local regulation of app-based drivers and would criminalize the impersonation of drivers.

Why voting NO on Prop 22 matters:

  • By classifying workers as contractors and not employees, companies like Lyft, Uber, and DoorDash are not required by state employment laws to enforce minimum wage, overtime, unemployment insurance, and workers’ compensation.
  • Ride-share and delivery workers are entitled to labor rights that every other employee in California is entitled to, such as the right to organize, minimum wage, and Social Security.
  • AB 5, which Prop 22 is trying to repeal, guarantees paid family leave, paid sick days, and unemployment insurance to those classified as gig employees. These labor rights are essential during a global pandemic.

Top Funders of Prop 22 include:

  • Lyft, Uber, and DoorDash are leading contributions in support of Prop 22, with over $30 million each. Both InstaCart and Postmates have contributed $10 million each, for a grand total of over $110 million.
  • Transport Workers Union of America, SEIU California State Council, Working Families Issues Committee, Service Employees International Union, and District Council of Ironworkers PIC have contributed a total of $842,850 in opposition to Prop 22.

Misinformation About Prop 22 Includes:

  • "The cost of ride-share will go up, decreasing the amount of people who will pay for rides and services and forcing companies to lay off more workers." -- FALSE. The nonpartisan Legislative Analyst’s Office found that because these companies would not have to pay for standard employee benefits and protections (roughly 20 percent of total employee costs), companies can charge lower delivery fees and fares. It is projected that this will increase companies’ profits and drivers’ state income taxes.


Last updated: 2020-08-28

Proposition #24

Vote NO on Prop 24

Vote NO on Prop 24 to protect consumers’ personal information.

Proposition 24 asks voters to amend the California Consumer Privacy Act of 2018 (CCPA) to include pay-for-privacy schemes, which provide better services and internet connection to those who pay more in order to protect their personal information while providing suboptimal services for Californians who cannot or do not want to pay more. Additionally, Prop 24 caters to tech companies by allowing them to upload a California resident’s personal information as soon as that resident’s device, computer, or phone leaves the state’s borders, and permits tech companies to completely ignore a programmable universal electronic “do not sell my information” signal. Under current law, privacy follows a Californian wherever they go, and businesses must honor the electronic signal.

Why voting NO on Prop 24 matters:

  • Prop 24 erodes a consumer’s request to delete their data and would completely end CCPA protection of biometric information.
  • California should maintain net neutrality so people do not have to pay for companies to safeguard their personal information.
  • Prop 24 would disproportionately affect working people and families of color.
  • The Legislative Analyst’s Office estimates that Prop 24 will cost $10 million annually to create a new state agency that oversees and enforces the more stringent consumer privacy laws with an unknown impact on state and local tax revenues.

Misinformation about Prop 24:

  • "It will better safeguard consumers’ information." -- FALSE. Prop 24 will only do this for the consumers who are financially able to pay for better protections. Additionally, Prop 24 will end CCPA protection of biometric information.

Top Funders of Prop 24:

  • Alastair Mactaggart, a real estate developer from San Francisco, donated the majority of the total funds for the support campaign entirely by himself, with a total of $4,892,400.
  • There are no contributions to an opposition campaign.
Last updated: 2020-08-28