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California Political Party Qualifications

Elections Code requires each party, upon the occurrence of the gubernatorial election, to have its qualifications reviewed by the Secretary of State

By Chris Micheli, February 6, 2022 4:10 pm

California’s Elections Code provides Political Party Qualifications in Division 5, Chapter 1. Section 5000 defines the term “party” and Chapter 1 applies to political bodies and to parties. Section 5001 specifies when a group of electors desires to qualify a new political party then the group must form a political body by:

  • Holding a caucus or convention at which temporary officers are elected and a party name designated. The designated name cannot be so similar to the name of an existing party so as to mislead the voters, and cannot conflict with that of any existing party or political body that has previously filed notice.
  • Filing formal notice with the Secretary of State that the political body has organized, elected temporary officers, and declared an intent to qualify a political party.

Section 5002 requires the Secretary of State to notify each county elections official of the name of the political body, its intent to qualify as a political party, and whether it intends to qualify for the next primary election or for the next presidential general election.

Section 5003 provides that a political body, within the first 70 days after filing the formal notice required is entitled, upon request to the Secretary of State, to have counted toward its qualification as a political party affidavits of registration in which voters declared affiliation with the political body prior to the date the political body filed the formal notice with the Secretary of State.

Section 5004 states that, if by the 135th day before any primary election, a political body filing notice of its intent to qualify for a primary election has not qualified as a political party, the political body is to be considered to have abandoned its attempt to qualify as a political party and is ineligible to participate in the following primary election.

Section 5005 specifies that a political party newly qualified must carry on its activities in accordance with procedures applicable to any other political party that has detailed statutory provisions applicable to its operation as designated by the newly qualified party. The temporary officers of the newly qualified political party elected must file notice of its selection with the Secretary of State not later than 30 days after the political party qualifies.

Section 5006 states that any political party newly qualifying is required to conduct its presidential primary election in accordance with procedures applicable to any other political party that has detailed statutory provisions applicable to its presidential primary as designated by the newly qualified party.

Chapter 2 deals with Parties Qualified to Participate in the Primary Election. Section 5100 provides that party is qualified to participate in a primary election under specified conditions.

Section 5100.5 requires each party, upon the occurrence of the gubernatorial election, to have its qualifications reviewed by the Secretary of State. A party that does not meet the standards for qualification must be prohibited from participating in any primary election. A party seeking qualification under provisions of this section must file formal notice with the Secretary of State that the party intends to regain qualification.

Section 5101 provides that, whenever the registration of any party that qualified in the previous direct primary election falls below one-fifteenth of 1 percent of the total state registration, that party cannot be qualified to participate in the primary election but is deemed to have been abandoned by the voters. The Secretary of State must immediately remove the name of the party from any list, notice, ballot, or other publication containing the names of the parties qualified to participate in the primary election.

Section 5102 prohibits a party from being recognized or qualified to participate in any primary election that either directly or indirectly carries on, advocates, teaches, justifies, aids, or abets the overthrow by any unlawful means of, or that directly or indirectly carries on, advocates, teaches, justifies, aids, or abets a program of sabotage, force and violence, sedition or treason against, the government of the United States or of this state.

Chapter 2.5 deals with Parties Qualified to Participate in the Presidential General Election. Section 5150 states that this chapter applies to a political body that did not qualify to participate in a presidential primary election but nevertheless seeks qualification to participate in the following presidential general election through the nomination of candidates for President and Vice President of the United States by nominating convention, or some means other than a primary election, to appear on the ballot at the presidential general election.

Section 5151 states that a party is qualified to participate in a presidential general election under specified conditions.

Section 5152 specifies that, upon the occurrence of the gubernatorial election, each party must have its qualifications reviewed by the Secretary of State. A party that does not meet the standards for qualification is prohibited from participating in the presidential general election. A party must maintain its qualification to participate in any subsequent presidential general election by complying with specified conditions.

Section 5153 provides that, whenever the registration of any party that qualified in the previous general election falls below one-fifteenth of 1 percent of the total state registration, that party is not qualified to participate in a presidential general election but is deemed to have been abandoned by the voters. The Secretary of State then must immediately remove the name of the party from any list, notice, ballot, or other publication containing the names of the parties qualified to participate in a presidential general election.

Section 5154 prohibits any party from being recognized or qualified to participate in a presidential general election that either directly or indirectly carries on, advocates, teaches, justifies, aids, or abets the overthrow by any unlawful means of, or that directly or indirectly carries on, advocates, teaches, justifies, aids, or abets a program of sabotage, force and violence, sedition or treason against, the government of the United States or of this state.

Chapter 3 deals with the Disqualification of Political Parties. Section 5200 requires the Secretary of State, not less than 123 days before a primary or presidential general election, with the advice and consent of the Attorney General, determine which parties are disqualified to participate in any primary election or a presidential general election.

If it is proposed to disqualify a party that was qualified to participate in the next preceding direct primary, notice of intention to disqualify must be served by registered mail on the chairperson of the state central committee of the party, as shown by the records of the Secretary of State.

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