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Write-in Candidates in California

A person may not be a write-in candidate at the general election for a voter-nominated office

By Chris Micheli, January 26, 2022 6:31 am

The California Elections Code, in Division 8, Part 3, deals with write-in candidates. Chapter 1 contains the General Provisions. Section 8500 provides that every person who desires to be a write-in candidate and have his or her name as written on the ballot of an election counted for a particular office is required to file a statement of write-in candidacy, as well as the requisite number of signatures on the nominating papers.

The statement of write-in candidacy is required to contain the following information:

  • Candidate’s name.
  • Residence address.
  • A declaration stating that he or she is a write-in candidate.
  • The title of the office for which he or she is running.
  • The party nomination which he or she seeks, if running in a partisan primary election.
  • The date of the election.
  • A certification of the candidate’s complete voter registration and party affiliation/preference history for the preceding 10 years, if eligible to vote.
  • A statement that the candidate meets the statutory and constitutional requirements for that office.

Note that a person may not be a write-in candidate at the general election for a voter-nominated office.

Section 8601 requires the statement and nomination papers to be available on the 57th day prior to the election for which the candidate is filing as a write-in candidate, and those papers must be delivered to the elections official responsible for the conduct of the election no later than the 14th day prior to the election. Section 8602 requires the nomination papers for a write-in candidate to be substantially in a specified form.

Section 8603 requires signers of nomination papers for write-in candidates to be voters in the district or political subdivision in which the candidate is to be voted on. In addition, if the candidate is seeking a party nomination for an office, the signers must also be affiliated with the party whose nomination is sought. Section 8604 prohibits any fee or charge to be required of a write-in candidate except in the case of a candidate for city office.

Section 8605 provides that no person whose name has been written in upon a ballot for an office at the direct primary may have his or her name placed upon the ballot as a candidate for that office for the ensuing general election, except in specified circumstances. Section 8606 prohibits a person from being a write-in candidate at the general election for a voter-nominated office.

Chapter 2 deals with Presidential Electors. Section 8650 provides that any group of individuals equal in number to the number of presidential electors to which this state is entitled, who desire to be write-in candidates for presidential electors pledged to a particular candidate for President and Vice President of the United States, are required to file a declaration of write-in candidacy.

Section 8651 requires the declaration of write-in candidacy for presidential elector must contain the following information:

  • Candidate’s name.
  • Residence address.
  • A declaration stating that he or she is a write-in candidate for the office of presidential elector.
  • Oath or affirmation as set forth in Section 3 of Article XX of the California Constitution.
  • The date of the general election.
  • The names of the candidates for President and Vice President of the United States for which the group of presidential electors are pledged.

Section 8652 requires the declaration of write-in candidacy to be filed with the Secretary of State no later than the 14th day prior to the general election. Section 8653 provides that only those names written on the ballot at the general election for the office of President and Vice President of the United States for which a group of presidential electors are pledged on the declaration of write-in candidacy filed are to be counted as votes.

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