Good morning, California. It’s Tuesday, November 3.

Results of close races unlikely tonight

Election Day is finally here.

Today is the last day to cast your ballot, either by mail or in person. Today is your last chance to weigh in on 12 propositions that could affect California’s economic, political and social landscape for generations. Today is your final opportunity to decide who will represent you in the state Assembly, state Senate and U.S. House of Representatives.

Already, 55% of California’s more than 22 million registered voters have returned their ballots. That’s 83% of the record 14.6 million votes Californians cast during the 2016 general election.

But don’t expect to know the outcome of competitive California races tonight, CalMatters’ Ben Christopher warns. Though counties have been pre-processing ballots and will likely release their first vote totals around 8 p.m., they will also accept ballots through Nov. 20 — as long as they were postmarked today. And it takes time to count provisional ballots, those sent to the wrong county or with incorrect signatures, and those cast by voters who register today.

Still, if you want to watch results as they come in, check out this CalMatters live tracker. (Interested in embedding it in your website? Contact Aldrin Brown at aldrin@calmatters.org.)

Californians are also making their voices heard in ways other than voting. Thousands of Trump supporters gathered over the weekend with car caravans in Temecula, Marin City, Sacramento and other cities; a boat parade in San Diego; and a massive rally in Beverly Hills. In San Francisco, a group of students took to the streets to protest Trump.

Many of the rallies were peaceful, despite concerns that things will turn violent if the outcome of the presidential election remains in dispute after tonight. But the caravan in Marin City proved contentious, with members of the majority-minority community alleging that Trump supporters yelled racial epithets at children and caravan members saying their cars were pelted with eggs and paintballs.

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The coronavirus bottom line: As of 9 p.m. Monday night, California had 930,628 confirmed coronavirus cases and 17,672 deaths from the virus, according to a CalMatters tracker.

Also: CalMatters regularly updates this pandemic timeline tracking the state’s daily actions. And we’re tracking the state’s coronavirus hospitalizations by county.


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1. Judge checks Newsom’s executive authority

Newsom at a press conference at the Capitol in March 2020. Photo by Anne Wernikoff for CalMatters

Gov. Gavin Newsom does not have the power to issue executive orders that amend or make new state laws, a California Superior Court judge ruled Monday in the first major blow to the governor’s executive authority amid the pandemic. The tentative ruling found that Newsom’s June executive order establishing new election regulations was unconstitutional because it violated the state’s separation of powers — only legislators have the power to make new laws. However, the ruling doesn’t affect the election because lawmakers later codified the executive order. (The ruling also doesn’t affect California’s lockdown or mask mandate.)

Newsom is almost certain to appeal the decision, foreshadowing a battle that could wind up in front of the state Supreme Court. Nevertheless, the ruling is a check on a governor who’s issued more than 50 executive orders amid the pandemic. It’s also a victory for Republican Assemblymembers James Gallagher and Kevin Kiley, who filed the suit against Newsom.

  • Gallagher and Kiley: “Nobody disputes that there are actions that should be taken to keep people safe during an emergency. But that doesn’t mean that we put our Constitution and free society on hold by centralizing all power in the hands of one man.”
  • Jesse Melgar, Newsom’s press secretary: “We strongly disagree with specific limitations the ruling places on the exercise of the Governor’s emergency authority and are evaluating next steps.”

2. Google and California propositions

Image via iStock

Did Google influence the way Californians voted on the 12 statewide propositions? For seven of the measures, Google searches pulled up supporting or opposing campaign arguments from the state’s official voter guide rather than neutral explanations, Politico reports. For example, Googling “Prop 24,” a measure that would change the state’s data privacy law, resulted in the following description: “CON Proposition 24 reduces your privacy rights in California. Proposition 24 allows ‘pay for privacy’ schemes, makes workers wait years to learn what confidential …” Though the secretary of state’s office resolved the issue Friday, at least 40% of California voters had already cast their ballots by then, raising questions as to whether they may have been swayed by the search results.

Consumer Watchdog on Friday demanded the state Legislature investigate Google, alleging that Prop. 24 was the only California measure for which Google pulled up the “No” argument from the state voter guide.

Google said it had trained the California secretary of state’s office on how to control search result excerpts.

3. What we know about school reopenings

Special education instructor Liz Duffield walks with students on Oct. 27, 2020. Photo by Anne Wernikoff for CalMatters

As teachers unions, districts, and parents argue over whether it’s safe to reopen schools, data show that only 17 coronavirus cases have been traced to campus reopenings, CalMatters’ Ricardo Cano and James Bikales report. And though California doesn’t track how many of its 6.1 million K-12 students have returned to campus, Ricardo and James found that at least 40 counties have some public school students back in the classroom. In other counties, only private schools have reopened — including in Sacramento County, where Newsom’s four children recently returned to campus. Meanwhile, most of the state’s 25 largest school districts — which comprise 1.8 million students — remain in distance learning. In Los Angeles Unified, this has resulted in a surge in D and F grades and a decline in attendance especially pronounced for low-income students; similar trends are emerging across the Bay Area. Still, many teachers unions and district officials say it’s unsafe to return to campus until comprehensive coronavirus testing protocols are in place.


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CalMatters commentary

CalMatters columnist Dan Walters: California is certainly a blue state — but this high-turnout election will reveal just how deeply blue it is.

Eliminating educational inequities: California needs a statewide system for measuring kindergarten readiness, argues Kara Dukakis of Tipping Point Community.

Time for transportation action: California can take steps toward clean air while waiting for the ban on new gas-powered cars to take effect, writes Thomas Lawson of the California Natural Gas Vehicle Coalition.


Other things worth your time

PG&E fire victim trust will start paying out bankruptcy settlement funds. // San Francisco Chronicle

Why California’s desert ecosystems will never recover. // The Nation

Air quality worsens for parts of Bay Area. // San Francisco Chronicle

Oceano Dunes reopens to vehicles. Riders ‘ecstatic,’ while others are ‘disappointed.’ // San Luis Obispo Tribune

Union membership drops among California state workers amid pandemic. // Sacramento Bee

Black workers allege racial bias in hiring, promotions at California prisons. // Sacramento Bee

How new law requiring ethnic studies at CSU will affect community colleges. // EdSource

Golden State Warriors take Oracle Arena dispute to state Supreme Court. // Mercury News

Pandemic cuts California consumer confidence by 25%. // Los Angeles Daily News


See you tomorrow.

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Emily Hoeven writes the daily WhatMatters newsletter for CalMatters. Her reporting, essays, and opinion columns have been published in San Francisco Weekly, the Deseret News, the San Francisco Business...