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California Ballot Titles

The Attorney General is required to provide ballot title and summary and ballot label

By Chris Micheli, February 8, 2022 6:22 am

California’s Elections Code provides rules for ballot titles that are used for measures submitted to the voters. These rules are found in Division 9, Chapter 1, Article 5. Section 9050 requires that, after the Secretary of State determines that a measure will appear on the ballot at the next statewide election, the Secretary of State must promptly transmit a copy of the measure to the Attorney General.

The Attorney General is required to provide and return to the Secretary of State a ballot title and summary and ballot label for each measure submitted to the voters of the whole state by a date sufficient to meet the state voter information guide public display deadlines.

Section 9051 provides that the ballot title and summary may differ from the legislative, circulating, or other title and summary of the measure, but cannot exceed 100 words, not including the fiscal impact statement. The ballot title and summary must include a summary of the Legislative Analyst’s estimate of the net state and local government fiscal impact prepared.

The ballot label cannot contain more than 75 words and must be a condensed version of the ballot title and summary including the financial impact summary prepared.

In providing the ballot title and summary, the Attorney General is required to give a true and impartial statement of the purpose of the measure in such language that the ballot title and summary is neither an argument, nor likely to create prejudice, for or against the proposed measure. The Attorney General is required to invite and consider public comment in preparing each ballot title and summary.

Section 9053 requires each measure to be designated on the ballot by the ballot label certified to the Secretary of State by the Attorney General.

Section 9054 specifies that, whenever a city, county, or city and county is required the federal Voting Rights Act of 1965 to provide a translation of ballot materials in a language other than English, the Secretary of State must provide a translation of the ballot title and summary and of the ballot label prepared in that language to the city, county, or city and county for each state measure submitted to the voters in a statewide election not later than 68 days before that election.

When preparing a translation in a language other than English, the Secretary of State must consult with an advisory body consisting of language experts and nonpartisan organizations that advocate on behalf of, or provide services to, individuals that speak that language. All translations prepared must be made available for public examination in the same time and manner as the state voter information guide is made available for public examination.

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