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Preelection Procedures in California

The Governor issues a proclamation calling the election for each statewide election

By Chris Micheli, February 17, 2022 3:30 pm

Elections Code Division 12 provides a number of preelection procedures. Chapter 1 deals with Proclamations and Election Orders. Section 12000 requires the Governor, for each statewide election, to issue a proclamation calling the election. The proclamation must be issued by the Governor under his or her hand and the Great Seal of the state no later than the 148th day prior to the election and must state the time of the election and the office to be filled.

Section 12001 requires the governing body of the local agency, for a special local election, to issue a proclamation or a resolution calling the election.

Chapter 2 deals with Preelection Notices. Section 1201 specifies that, not earlier than the 127th nor later than the 113th day before any municipal election to fill offices, the city elections official must publish a notice of the election in the city. The notice must be headed “Notice of Election” and contain a statement of the time of the election and the offices to be filled, specifying full term or short term.

Section 12102 requires the notice of the municipal election to be substantially in the following form:

Notice is hereby given that a ____ (general or special) municipal election will be held in the ____ of ____ on ____, the ____ day of ____, 20__, for the following officers: (name them).

The polls will be open between the hours of __ m. and __ m.

City Elections Official

Dated, _______, ___.

Section 12103 provides that, at least 158 days before the direct primary, the Secretary of State is required to prepare and transmit to each county elections official a notice designating all the offices, except those of county officers and judges, for which candidates are to be nominated.

Section 12104 requires a notice designating the offices for which candidates are to be nominated to be in substantially the following form:

NOTICE BY SECRETARY OF STATE OF OFFICES FOR WHICH CANDIDATES ARE TO BE NOMINATED AT THE DIRECT PRIMARY

Secretary of State

Sacramento,__. 20 __.

To the County Elections Official of the County of ____:

Notice is hereby given that the offices for which candidates are to be nominated at the primary election to be held on the ____ day of___, 20__, together with the names of the political parties qualified to participate in the election, are as follows:

STATE AND DISTRICT OFFICES

CONGRESSIONAL OFFICES

LEGISLATIVE OFFICES

Notice is also hereby given that at the primary election, candi–
dates are to be nominated for the following office:

SUPERINTENDENT OF PUBLIC INSTRUCTION

Notice is also hereby given that at the primary election, in the county first above mentioned, candidates are to be nominated for any county offices or judicial offices to which candidates are to be elected at the ensuing general election;

And notice is also hereby given that at the primary election there shall be elected in each county a county central committee for each political party above named pursuant to Division 7 (commencing with Section 7000) of the Elections Code.

_____

(seal) _____ Secretary of State

In addition, the notice designating the political parties qualified to participate in this election for nomination of candidates must be in substantially the following form:

NOTICE BY SECRETARY OF STATE OF POLITICAL PARTIES QUALIFIED TO PARTICIPATE IN THE DIRECT PRIMARY ELECTION

Secretary of State

Sacramento, __. 20__.

To the County Elections Official of the County of ____:

Notice is hereby given that the political parties qualified to participate in this election for nomination of candidates to partisan offices are as follows:

_____

(seal) _____ Secretary of State

Section 12105 requires the elections official, not less than one week before the election, to publish the list of the polling places designated for each election precinct.

Section 12105.5 requires, not less than one week before the election, the elections official to post a list of all current polling places in each precinct and a list of precinct board members appointed by the 15th day before the election.

Section 12106 requires the elections official to publish the list of polling places designated for each election precinct in each jurisdiction where the elections official determines that the public interest, convenience, and necessity require the local publication of the list to afford adequate notice of this subject to the electorate.

Section 12107 requires the elections official to let the contracts for publication of the list of polling places designated for each election precinct, and determine the rate to be paid for the publication of the list or any portion of the list.

Section 12108 provides that, in a case in which this chapter requires the posting or distribution of a list of the names of precinct board members, or a portion of the list, the officers charged with the duty of posting must ascertain the name of the political party, if any, for which each precinct board member has expressed a preference, as shown in the affidavit of registration of that person.

Section 12109 provides that, whenever the ballots at any election or from any precincts are to be tallied at a central place and not at the precincts, the elections official or secretary of the jurisdiction conducting the election is required to specify the public place to be used and give specified notice.

Section 12110 provides that, in case of a municipal election to fill offices, the city elections official must not later than one week before the election publish a list of the names of the nominees, in the order in which they appear on the ballot, and the respective offices for which they have been nominated. This list must be headed, “Nominees for Public Office,” in conspicuous type, and be substantially in the following form:

NOMINEES FOR PUBLIC OFFICE

Notice is hereby given that the following persons have been nominated for the offices mentioned below to be filled at the general municipal election to be held in the ____ of ____on ____ the ____ day of ____, 20__.

(Here follow with the list of nominees.)

Dated, ____

_____ City Elections Official _____

Section 12111 states, in case of a municipal election on any measure, the city elections official is required to publish a synopsis of the measure at least one time not later than one week before the election in a newspaper of general circulation in the city. The notice must be headed “Measure To Be Voted On” in conspicuous type and shall be substantially in the following form:

MEASURE TO BE VOTED ON

Notice is hereby given that the following measure is to be voted on at the ____ (general or special) municipal election to be held in the City of ____, on Tuesday, the ____ day of ____, 2___.

(Synopsis of measure or measures)

Dated ____

_____ City Elections Official _____

City of ______________

Section 12112 states that, at least 90 days, and not more than 120 days, before the day fixed for the general district election, the elections official of the principal county must publish a notice of the election once in a newspaper of general circulation published in the district or, if no such newspaper is published in the district, in a newspaper having general circulation in the district published in any affected county in the district.

Section 12114 requires, for each school or special district, the county elections official immediately to deliver a copy of all published notices to the district secretary. Each notice must be posted in the district office.

Division 12, Chapter 3 deals with Precincts and Article 1 deals with General Provisions. Section 12200 states that Chapter 3 applies to all jurisdictions. Article 2 deals with Precinct Formation. Section 12220 requires the elections official to divide the jurisdiction into precincts and prepare detailed maps or exterior descriptions and as many copies as the elections official may determine.

Section 12221 requires, in any order establishing precincts, their boundaries must be defined by reference to exterior descriptions or delineation on a map or maps. Section 12222 prohibits a precinct from being established so that its boundary crosses the boundary of any supervisorial district, congressional district, senatorial district, Assembly district, board of equalization district, judicial district, incorporated city, ward, or city council district.

Section 12223 provides, whenever a jurisdiction is divided into election precincts or whenever the boundary of an established precinct is changed or a new precinct is created, the precinct boundary must be fixed in a manner so that the number of voters in the precinct does not exceed 1,000 on the 88th day prior to the day of election.

Section 12224 states that, at the discretion of the elections official, the voters of the precinct may be divided into two or more groups, as nearly equal as possible, and one precinct board appointed to serve each group. When the voters of a precinct are so divided, there may be one or more polling places and a ballot box for and a set of returns from each group.

Section 12225 provides that, whenever a precinct is entirely owned or controlled by the United States, and no permission is granted by the federal authorities for the establishment of precinct boards and polling places, precinct boards need not be appointed nor polling places designated, but in lieu thereof the elections official shall, not less than 88 days prior to election day, establish the precinct as a mail ballot precinct and conduct the election for that precinct.

Article 3 deals with Precinct Consolidations. Section 12241 provides that the elections official conducting local, special, or consolidated elections, or statewide elections other than the direct primary, presidential primary, or general election, for the purpose of the election, may divide the territory within which the election is to be held into special election or consolidated election precincts by consolidating existing precincts, or otherwise, and may change and alter the precincts for those elections as often as occasion requires.

Article 4 deals with Precinct Boundary Changes. Section 12260 authorizes the elections official to change or alter any precinct boundaries.

Section 12261 requires the boundaries of precincts for the general election to be the same as those established for the direct primary election, except to the extent necessary to add or subtract precincts as the result of population change or to divide precincts containing more than 1,000 voters or to change precinct boundaries due to jurisdictional boundary changes, or consolidations of elections. Changes of precinct boundaries may also be made when consolidating precincts.

Section 12262 provides that jurisdictional boundary changes occurring less than 125 days before an election shall not be effective for purposes of that election. Voters residing within an area affected by a boundary change, occurring within 125 days before an election, shall vote at the ensuing election in all respects as if a boundary change had not occurred.

Article 5 deals with Polling Places. Section 12280 requires the elections official, when designating polling places to undertake necessary measures in the locating of polling places to ensure that polling places meet the guidelines promulgated by the Secretary of State for accessibility by the physically handicapped.

Section 12281 provides the polling place, for any valid reason, cannot be used and this fact is known in sufficient time to allow a mailed notice to be received before the election, the elections official may designate another polling place and must mail, to each voter in the precinct a notice showing this change.

Section 12282 requires property exempted from taxation to be made available free of charge to the elections official for use as a polling. Section 12283 defines the term “public building.” Section 12284 provides that, upon request of the elections official, state-owned buildings, parking lots, and other facilities must be made available free of charge for use as polling places and vote centers.

Section 12285 specifies that a mobilehome may be used as a polling place if the elections official determines that no other facilities are available for the convenient exercise of voting rights by mobilehome park residents and the mobilehome is designated as a polling place by the elections official.

Section 12286 requires, at least 29 days prior to the election, the elections official to do all of the following:

  • Establish a convenient number of election precincts within the affected jurisdiction.
  • Define the precinct boundaries.
  • Designate a polling place for each precinct.
  • Appoint for each precinct a precinct board pursuant.
  • Notify the members of each precinct board of their appointment and the location of the precinct and polling place where they will serve.

Section 12287 prohibits a candidate’s residence from being designated as a polling place for an election at which that candidate’s name will appear on the ballot. Section 12287.5 prohibits a single-family residence from being designated as a polling place if elections officials determine that it has the registered address of a person who is required to register pursuant to the Sex Offender Registration Act.

In addition, elections officials are required, not more than 60 days prior to designating a single-family residence as a polling place, to use the Megan’s Law Internet Web site maintained by the Department of Justice to determine if the residence has the registered address of a sex offender.

Section 12288 provides that a place where the primary purpose of the establishment is the sale and dispensation of alcoholic beverages may not be used as a polling place. A polling place may not be connected by a door, window, or other opening with any place where any alcoholic beverage is sold or dispensed while the polls are open.

Division 12, Chapter 4 deals with Precinct Boards and Article 1 provides General Provisions. Section 12300 provides that any voters may file an application with the elections official for the position of precinct board member. The elections official may require the application be made on specific forms supplied by the elections official.

Section 12301 requires the persons appointed to serve as election officers for each precinct at any election to constitute the precinct board for that precinct. Section 12302 requires a member of a precinct board to be a voter of the state. The member may serve only in the precinct for which his or her appointment is received.

Section 12303 states that a person who cannot read or write the English language is not eligible to act as a member of any precinct board. It is the intent of the Legislature that non-English-speaking citizens, like all other citizens, should be encouraged to vote. Therefore, appropriate efforts should be made to minimize obstacles to non-English-speaking citizens voting without assistance.

Section 12304 requires the composition of the precinct board to be determined by the elections official based on election precinct size. The precinct board must consist of a minimum of one inspector and two clerks. Additional clerk positions may be allocated in proportion to the number of registered voters within the precinct.

Section 12306 specifies that the county elections official of any county, in appointing members of the several precinct boards to serve in the direct primary and general elections under the provisions of this code, must permit the county central committee of each qualified political party to nominate for appointment to the precinct board a member of that party who is registered and resident in that precinct.

Section 12307 states that, upon filing the list of names and addresses of those who have been appointed members of the precinct board, the elections official is required to immediately mail or deliver to each voter so appointed, a notice stating the appointment and the position to which assigned, the penalty for failure to serve, and any other matter that the elections official determines.

Section 12309 states that, following the appointment of members of precinct boards, the elections official must instruct inspectors so appointed concerning their duties in connection with the conduct of the election, which instruction must conform to the uniform standards adopted by the Secretary of State.

Section 12310 requires each member of a precinct board to receive compensation from the governing body of the jurisdiction. This sum must be paid out of the treasury of the jurisdiction in which the election is held. The inspector may receive more compensation than the other members of the precinct board. The additional compensation to the inspector is for services rendered in securing precinct board members and other duties which may be directed by the elections official.

Section 12311 prohibits any public agency from requiring as the result of any assignment or transfer to pay the stipend of an election officer for services to any person other than the election officer to whom the stipend is due. Section 12312 prohibits a person from being suspended or discharged from any service or employment because of absence while serving as an election officer.

Section 12313 states that, if any member of a precinct board does not appear at the opening of the polls on the morning of an election, those voters present, including members of the board, must appoint a voter to fill the vacancy. If none of the members appointed appears at that time, the voters of the precinct present at that time may appoint a board.

Section 12314 authorizes the inspector to appoint a voter to replace any precinct board member who ceases to act or becomes incapacitated during the progress of an election. Section 12315 provides that, if the inspector ceases to act, a majority of the remaining members of the precinct board may appoint a substitute. Section 12316 authorizes the elections official, in constituting precinct boards, to excuse persons appointed whom the elections official is satisfied ought to be excused.

Section 12318 specifies that, following the notification of the precinct board members appointed, the county elections official must mail or deliver to the county central committee of each qualified political party a copy of the list, and the elections official may notify the same committee of any substitute appointments that are made until the time the notice of final order is sent to the precinct inspector. This list must have the names of precinct board members in precinct order.

Section 12319 requires the elections official to immediately mail or deliver to each person appointed as inspector a notice showing the precinct polling place and the voters appointed to serve as election officers in that precinct. Section 12320 provides that no person is eligible to act as an election officer until the declaration required has been signed.

Section 12321 requires each inspector to sign a declaration of intention to faithfully discharge the duties of inspector and return it to the elections official at least 15 days before election day or the first day of service at a vote center. If the inspector fails or refuses to sign and file the declaration, the elections official must appoint a substitute who must make and file the application.

The declaration of an inspector is required to be in substantially the following form:

State of California

County of


ss.

I do hereby solemnly declare that I will support the Constitution of the United States and the Constitution of the State of California, and that I will to the best of my ability, faithfully discharge the duties of inspector for polling place or vote center ______ for the election to be held on ______, 20__.

.

Signed in the presence of  _____ (Signature) _____

on ______, 20__.

In addition, before entering upon the performance of duties, each of the precinct board members, other than the inspector, are required to sign a declaration of intention to faithfully discharge the duties of an election officer. The declaration of the precinct board member must be in substantially the following form:

State of California

County of


ss.

I do hereby solemnly declare that I will support the Constitution of the United States and the Constitution of the State of California, and that I will to the best of my ability, faithfully discharge the duties of precinct board member for polling place or vote center______ for the election to be held on ______, 20__.

.

Signed in the presence of  _____ (Signature) _____

on ______, 20__.

Any precinct board member may administer and certify oaths required to be administered during the progress of an election. This authorization includes the power to give any type of oath required of a public employee.

Section 12327 provides that, if the precinct board members for any precinct have not been appointed or cannot serve, or the polling place has not been designated prior to an election, the county elections official must, by written order, immediately appoint the precinct board members or designate the polling place for the precinct, as the case may require, and must notify each precinct board member of the appointment.

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