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California’s Voter Participation Act

A voter who resides where a violation is alleged may file an action in the superior court of the county

By Chris Micheli, January 25, 2022 3:28 pm

Did you know that there are voter participation rights in this state? In Elections Code Division 14, Chapter 1.7, there are voter participation provisions related to election day procedures. Section 14050 provides that Chapter 1.7 is known as the “California Voter Participation Rights Act.” Section 14051 defines the terms “political subdivision,” “significant decrease in voter turnout,” and “voter turnout.”

Section 14052 prohibits a political subdivision from holding an election other than on a statewide election date if holding an election on a nonconcurrent date has previously resulted in a significant decrease in voter turnout. Section 14053 states that, upon a finding of a violation of the prior code section, the court is required to implement appropriate remedies, including the imposition of concurrent election dates for future elections and the upgrade of voting equipment or systems to do so.

Section 14054 provides that, in an action to enforce this law, the court is required to allow the prevailing plaintiff other than the state or political subdivision of the state, a reasonable attorney’s fee consistent with the standards established in Serrano v. Priest (1977) 20 Cal.3d 25, 48-49, and litigation expenses including, but not limited to, expert witness fees and expenses as part of the costs. On the other hand, a prevailing defendant cannot recover any costs, unless the court finds the action to be frivolous, unreasonable, or without foundation.

Section 14055 provides that a voter who resides in a political subdivision where a violation is alleged may file an action in the superior court of the county in which the political subdivision is located. Section 14056 specifies that this chapter does not apply to special elections. Section 14057 provides that this chapter became operative on January 1, 2018.

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