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Direct Democracy Provisions Found in Statutes

The three forms of direct democracy found in state statutes

By Chris Micheli, May 27, 2019 7:19 am

Here are some interesting provisions about the three forms of direct democracy in California that are found in state statutes (along with the relevant section):

Initiatives and Referenda

Division 9 deals with measures submitted to the voters and contains Sections 9000 – 9610. Chapter 1 deals with state elections and covers Sections 9000 – 9096. And Article 1 covers initiative and referendum petitions in Section 9000 – 9018.

This article applies only to initiative and referendum measures affecting the Constitution or laws of the state. (Section 9000) Before the circulation of an initiative or referendum petition for signatures, the text of the proposed measure must be submitted to the Attorney General with a written request that a circulating title and summary of the chief purpose and points of the proposed measure be prepared. The electors presenting the request are known as the “proponents.” The Attorney General must preserve the written request until after the next general election. (Section 9001)

Upon receipt of a request from the proponents of a proposed initiative measure for a circulating title and summary, the Attorney General must initiate a public review process for a period of 30 days by doing specified actions. (Section 9002) In the event that the Attorney General is a proponent of a proposed measure, the circulating title and summary of the chief purpose and points of the proposed measure, including an estimate or opinion on the financial impact of the measure, must be prepared by the Legislative Counsel, as well as the other duties. (Section 9003)

Upon receipt of the text of a proposed initiative measure, and after the public review period, the Attorney General must prepare a circulating title and summary of the chief purposes and points of the proposed measure. The circulating title and summary cannot exceed 100 words. The Attorney General must also provide a unique numeric identifier for each proposed initiative measure. (Section 9004) 

The Attorney General, in preparing a circulating title and summary for a proposed initiative measure, must, in boldface print, include in the circulating title and summary either the estimate of the amount of any increase or decrease in revenues or costs to the state or local government, or an opinion as to whether or not a substantial net change in state or local finances would result if the proposed initiative is adopted. The estimate must be made jointly by the Department of Finance and the Legislative Analyst, who must deliver the estimate to the Attorney General so that he or she may include the estimate in the circulating title and summary prepared by him or her. (Section 9005) 

Upon receipt of the text of a proposed referendum, the Attorney General must prepare a circulating title and summary of the chief purpose and points of the proposed statute at issue. The circulating title and summary must not exceed a total of 100 words. No fiscal analysis must be included. (Section 9006)

Immediately upon the preparation of the circulating title and summary of a proposed initiative or referendum measure, the Attorney General must transmit copies of the text of the measure and the circulating title and summary to the Senate and the Assembly. The appropriate committees of each house may hold public hearings on the subject of the measure. (Section 9007) 

Every proposed initiative measure, prior to circulation, must have placed across the top of the petition in 12-point or larger roman boldface type, specified information. (Section 9008) The heading of an initiative petition must be in substantially the form specified in this statute. (Section 9009) Across the top of each page of a referendum petition, there must be printed in 12-point boldface type specified information. (Section 9010)

Across the top of each page after the first page of every referendum petition or section of a referendum petition, which is prepared and circulated, there must be printed in 18-point gothic type a short title, in 20 words or less, showing the nature of the petition and the subject to which it relates. (Section 9011) 

Any petition for a proposed initiative measure or referendum may be presented in sections, but each section must contain a full and correct copy of the circulating title and summary and text of the proposed measure. The text of the proposed measure must be printed in type not smaller than 8 point. (Section 9012) 

A space at least one inch wide must be left blank across the top of each page of every initiative and referendum petition and after the name of each voter who has signed the petition for the use of the county elections official in verifying the petition. (Section 9013)

A petition for a proposed initiative or referendum measure must not be circulated for signatures prior to the official summary date. A petition with signatures for a proposed initiative measure must be filed with the county elections official not later than 180 days from the official summary date, and a county elections official must not accept a petition for the proposed initiative measure after that period. (Section 9014)

A petition for a proposed referendum measure must be filed with the county elections official not later than 90 days from the date the legislative bill was chaptered by the Secretary of State, and a county elections official must not accept a petition for the proposed referendum measure after that period. (Section 9014)

Officers required by law to receive or file in their offices any initiative or referendum petition must not receive or file any initiative or referendum petition not in conformity with this law. (Section 9015) An initiative measure must not be submitted to the voters at a statewide special election held less than 131 days after the date the measure is certified for the ball. (Section 9016) 

If, for any reason, any initiative or referendum measure proposed by petition is not submitted to the voters at the next succeeding statewide election, that failure must not prevent its submission at a succeeding statewide election. (Section 9017) The Secretary of State must prepare and provide to any person, upon request, a pamphlet describing the procedures and requirements for preparing and circulating a statewide initiative measure and for filing sections of the petition, and describing the procedure used in determining and verifying the number of qualified voters who have signed the petition. (Section 9018)

Article 2 deals with petition signatures and is contained in Section 9020 – 9022. The petition sections must be designed so that each signer must personally affix specified information. (Section 9020) A person who meets the requirements may circulate a statewide initiative or referendum petition anywhere within the state. Each section of the petition must bear the name of a county or city and county, and only qualified registered voters of that county or city and county may sign that section. (Section 9021) 

Each section must have attached the declaration of the person soliciting the signatures setting forth the required information. The circulator must certify to the content of the declaration as to its truth and correctness, under penalty of perjury under the laws of the State of California, with the signature of his or her name. (Section 9022)

Article 3 deals with filing petitions and is contained in Sections 9030 – 9035. Each section of the petition must be filed with the elections official of the county or city and county in which it was circulated. Once filed, no petition section must be amended except by order of a court of competent jurisdiction. Within eight days after the filing of the petition, the elections official must determine the total number of signatures affixed to the petition and must transmit this information to the Secretary of State. (Section 9030)

If the total number of signatures filed with all elections officials is less than 100 percent of the number of qualified voters required to find the petition sufficient, the Secretary of State must notify the proponents and the elections officials. If the number of signatures filed with all elections officials is 100 percent or more of the number of qualified voters needed to declare the petition sufficient, the Secretary of State must immediately notify the elections officials. (Section 9030)

If the statistical sampling shows that the number of valid signatures is within 95 to 110 percent of the number of signatures of qualified voters needed to declare the petition sufficient, the Secretary of State must order the examination and verification of the signatures filed. (Section 9031) The right to file the petition must be reserved to its proponents and presented for filing by any person or persons other than the proponents of a measure or by persons duly authorized in writing by one or more of the proponents must be disregarded by the elections official. (Section 9032) 

When the Secretary of State has received from one or more elections officials or registrars a petition, certified to have been signed by the requisite number of qualified voters, the Secretary of State must notify the proponents and immediately transmit to the elections official or registrar of voters of every county or city and county in the state a notice directing that signature verification be terminated. (Section 9033)

In the case of an initiative measure, the Secretary of State must identify the date of the next statewide general election that will occur not less than 131 days after the date the Secretary of State receives a petition certified to have been signed by the requisite number of qualified voters. In the case of a referendum measure, upon receipt of a petition certified to have been signed by the requisite number of qualified voters, the Secretary of State must do specified actions. (Section 9033)

The proponents of a proposed initiative measure must submit a certification, signed under penalty of perjury, to the Secretary of State immediately upon the collection of 25 percent of the number of signatures needed to qualify the initiative measure for the ballot. (Section 9034)

An initiative measure may be proposed by presenting to the Secretary of State a petition that sets forth the text of the proposed statute or amendment to the Constitution and is certified to have been signed by registered voters equal in number to 5 percent in the case of a statute, and 8 percent in the case of an amendment to the Constitution, of the voters for all candidates for Governor at the last gubernatorial election preceding the issuance of the circulating title and summary for the initiative measure by the Attorney General. (Section 9035)

Article 4 deals with measures proposed by the Legislature and is contained in Sections 9040 – 9044. Every constitutional amendment, bond measure, or other legislative measure submitted to the people by the Legislature must appear on the ballot of the first statewide election occurring at least 131 days after the adoption of the proposal by the Legislature. (Section 9040) 

Whenever the Legislature submits any measure to the voters of the state, the author of the measure and no more than two persons appointed by the author may draft an argument for the adoption of the measure, or the author of the measure may appoint no more than three persons to draft the argument. In no case must more than three persons write the argument. This argument must not exceed 500 words in length. If the author of the measure desires separate arguments to be written in its favor by each person appointed, separate arguments may be written, but the combined length of the arguments must not exceed 500 words. (Section 9041) 

If a measure submitted to the voters by the Legislature was not adopted unanimously, one Member of the Senate who voted against it must be appointed by the President pro Tempore of the Senate and one Member of the Assembly who voted against it must be appointed by the Speaker of the Assembly, at the same time as appointments to draft an argument in its favor are made, to write an argument against the measure. An argument must not exceed 500 words. If those members appointed to write an argument against the measure choose, each may write a separate argument opposing it, but the combined length of the two arguments must not exceed 500 words. (Section 9042)

Arguments prepared by legislators and their appointees must be submitted to the Secretary of State no later than a date to be designated by the Secretary of State. The arguments may not be amended or changed after submission. (Section 9043) 

If an argument for or an argument against a measure submitted to the voters by the Legislature has not been filed by a Member of the Legislature, any voter may request the Secretary of State’s permission to prepare and file an argument for either side, on which no argument has been prepared by a Member of the Legislature. The Secretary of State must grant permission unless two or more voters request permission to submit arguments on the same side of a measure, in which event the Secretary of State must designate one of the voters to write the argument. Any argument prepared pursuant to this section must be submitted to the Secretary of State by a date sufficient to meet ballot printing deadlines. (Section 9044)

Article 5 deals with ballot titles and is contained in Sections 9050 – 9054. 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 must 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 9050)

The ballot title and summary may differ from the legislative, circulating, or other title and summary of the measure and must not 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. (Section 9051) Each measure must be designated on the ballot by the ballot label certified to the Secretary of State by the Attorney General. (Section 9053)

Whenever a city, county, or city and county is required 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 prepared 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. (Section 9054)

Article 6 deals with arguments concerning measures submitted to voters and is contained in Sections 9060 – 9069. In case either the argument for or the argument against any measure placed on the ballot is not prepared and filed, the Secretary of State must, by a general press release, request voters to submit arguments. (Section 9060)

The press release must be mailed at least 120 days prior to the date of the election at which a measure is to be voted upon. (Section 9061) The press release must consist of an announcement containing specified information. (Section 9062) The summary of a measure given in the press release must be the official circulating title and summary that has been prepared by the Attorney General. The Legislative Counsel Bureau must prepare the summary on all other measures. (Section 9063) 

Any voter or group of voters may, at any time within the time limit, prepare and file with the Secretary of State an argument for or against any measure as to which arguments have not been prepared or filed. This argument must not exceed 500 words in length. (Section 9064) A ballot argument must not be accepted under this article unless accompanied specified information. (Section 9065)  

If more than one argument for, or more than one argument against, a measure is filed within the time prescribed, the Secretary of State must select one of the arguments for printing in the state voter information guide. In selecting the argument, the Secretary of State must give preference and priority in the order named to the arguments based upon specified criteria. (Section 9067)  

No more than three signatures must appear with an argument printed in the state voter information guide. In case an argument is signed by more than three persons the signatures of the first three must be printed. The Secretary of State must provide, upon request, the name of, and a telephone number for, each signer of a ballot argument printed in the state voter information guide. (Section 9068) 

When the Secretary of State has received the arguments that will be printed in the state voter information guide, the Secretary of State, within five days of receipt of the arguments, must send copies of the arguments in favor of the proposition to the authors of the arguments against and copies of the arguments against to the authors of the arguments in favor. The authors may prepare and submit rebuttal arguments not exceeding 250 words, or may authorize in writing another person or persons to prepare, submit, or sign the rebuttal argument. The rebuttal arguments must be filed with the Secretary of State no later than a date to be designated by the Secretary of State. Rebuttal arguments must be printed in the same manner as the direct arguments. Each rebuttal argument must immediately follow the direct argument that it seeks to rebut. (Section 9069)

Recalls

Division 11 deals with recall elections and is contained in Sections 11000 – 11396. Chapter 1 covers general procedures, including general provisions and initial steps in the recall and is contained in Sections 11000 – 11047. Article 1 sets forth general provisions and is contained in Sections 11000 – 11007.

This section of law governs the recall of elective officers of the State of California and of all counties, cities, school districts, county boards of education, community college districts, special districts, and judges of courts of appeal and trial courts. It does not supersede the provisions of a city charter or county charter, or of ordinances adopted pursuant to a city charter or county charter, relating to recall. (Section 11000) 

Judges of courts of appeal must be considered state officers, and judges of trial courts must be considered county officers. (Section 11001) “Elections official” is defined. (Section 11002) “Governing board” is defined. (Section 11003) “Local officer” is defined. (Section 11004) The proponents of a recall must be registered voters of the electoral jurisdiction of the officer they seek to recall. (Section 11005) 

Proceedings may be commenced for the recall of any elective officer, including any officer appointed in lieu of election or to fill a vacancy, by the service, filing and publication or posting of a notice of intention to circulate a recall petition. (Section 11006)

Because no person had been nominated to office, proceedings may not be commenced against an officer of a city, county, special district, school district, community college district, or county board of education in the event of one or more of specified conditions are met. (Section 11007)

Article 2 deals with the notice of intention, statement and answer and is contained in Sections 11020 – 11024. The notice of intention must contain specified information. (Section 11020) A copy of the notice of intention must be served by personal delivery, or by certified mail, on the officer sought to be recalled. Within seven days of serving the notice of intention, the original must be filed, along with an affidavit of the time and manner of service, with the elections official or, in the case of the recall of a state officer, the Secretary of State. (Section 11021)

A copy of the notice must be published at the proponents’ expense. Publication must be required unless there is no newspaper of general circulation able to provide timely publication in the jurisdiction of the officer sought to be recalled. (Section 11022)

Within seven days after the filing of the notice of intention, the officer sought to be recalled may file with the elections official, or in the case of a state officer, the Secretary of State, an answer, in not more than 200 words, to the statement of the proponents. If an answer is filed, the officer must, within seven days after the filing of the notice of intention, also serve a copy of it, by personal delivery or by certified mail, on one of the proponents named in the notice of intention. The answer must be signed and must be accompanied by the printed name and business or residence address of the officer sought to be recalled. (Section 11023) The statement and answer are intended solely for the information of the voters. No insufficiency in form or substance thereof must affect the validity of the election proceedings. (Section 11024)

Article 3 provides for the recall petition and is contained in Sections 11040 – 11047. The petition may consist of any number of separate sections, which must be duplicates except as to signatures and matters required to be affixed by signers and circulators. The number of signatures attached to each section must be at the pleasure of the person soliciting the signatures. Each section of the petition may consist of any number of separate pages. A page must consist of each side of a sheet of paper on which any signatures appear. (Section 11040)

The proponents must use the recall petition format provided by the Secretary of State and available from the county elections official or the Secretary of State. Before any signature may be affixed to a recall petition, each page of each section must bear specified information in no less than 8-point type. (Section 11041) 

Within 10 days after filing of the answer to the notice of intention, or, if no answer is filed, within 10 days after the expiration of the seven-day period, the proponents must file two blank copies of the petition with the elections official in his or her office during normal office hours as posted or, in the case of a recall of a state officer, with the Secretary of State, in his or her office during normal office hours as posted, who must ascertain if the proposed form and wording of the petition meets the requirements of the law. (Section 11042)

The petition sections must be designed so that each signer must personally affix specified information. (Section 11043) The Secretary of State must provide to county elections officials a recall petition format for distribution to proponents of a recall. The recall petition format must be made available upon request by the county elections official and by the Secretary of State. The recall petition format made available pursuant to this section must be utilized by proponents of a recall election. (Section 11043.5) Separate petitions are necessary to propose the recall of each officer. (Section 11044)

Only registered voters of the electoral jurisdiction of the officer sought to be recalled are qualified to sign a recall petition for that officer. (Section 11045) To each section of a petition must be attached a declaration, signed by the circulator thereof, that complies with the law. (Section 11046)

When a petition is circulated in more than one county for the recall of an officer, each section of the petition must bear the name of the county for which it is circulated, and only registered voters of that county may sign that section. (Section 11047)

Chapter 2 deals with the recall of state officer and provides the intermediate steps in the recall. This law applies only to the recall of state officers. (Section 11100) Unless and until it is otherwise proven upon official investigation, it must be presumed that the petition presented contains the signatures of the requisite number of registered voters. (Section 11101)

Each section of a recall petition must be filed with the elections official of the county for which it was circulated. (Section 11102) Each section of the petition must be filed by the proponents or by any person or persons authorized, in writing, by a proponent. (Section 11103)

The elections official, 30 days after a recall has been initiated and every 30 days thereafter, or more frequently at the discretion of the elections official, must report to the Secretary of State specified information. (Section 11104)

Immediately after the deadline for submission of all signatures, the elections official must verify any remaining signatures. This verification must apply to all signatures submitted to each county elections official. (Section 11106) The elections official, upon the completion of each examination, must attach to the petition a certificate, properly dated, showing the result of the examination, and submit a copy of the petition to the Secretary of State and file a copy of the certificate in his or her office. (Section 11107)

When the Secretary of State has received from one or more county elections officials a petition certified to have been signed by a sufficient number of registered voters to initiate a recall election, he or she must, within 10 days, notify each county elections official of that fact. (Section 11108) When the Secretary of State determines that the proponents have collected sufficient signatures, he or she must certify that fact to the Governor. (Section 11109)

Upon receiving certification of the sufficiency of the recall petitions from the Secretary of State, the Governor must make or cause to be made publication of notice for the holding of the election. Officers charged by law with duties concerning elections must make all arrangements for the election. The election must be conducted, returned, and the results declared, in all respects as are other state elections. (Section 11110)

Article 2 deals with recall petitions and is contained in Sections 11220 – 11227. A recall petition must be submitted to the election’s official for filing in his or her office during normal office hours as posted within the specified number of days after the clerk or, in the case of a recall of a state officer, the Secretary of State, notifies the proponents that the form and wording of the petition meets the requirements of the law. (Section 11220) 

The number of qualified signatures required in order to qualify a recall for the ballot must be as specified in the law. (Section 11221) The petition must be filed by the proponents, or by any person or persons authorized, in writing, by a proponent. All sections of the petition must be filed at the same time. (Section 11222)

If the petition was circulated in more than one county, the elections official of each county must affix, with the certificate showing the results of his or her examination, the number of registered voters of the county residing within the electoral jurisdiction of the officer sought to be recalled. (Section 11223)

Within 30 days from the date of filing of the petition, excluding Saturdays, Sundays, and holidays, the elections official must examine the petition, and from the records of registration, ascertain whether or not the petition is signed by the requisite number of voters. If the elections official’s examination shows that the number of valid signatures is greater than the required number, the elections official must certify the petition to be sufficient. If the number of valid signatures is less than the required number, the elections official must certify the petition to be insufficient. (Section 11224)

If more than 500 signatures have been signed on the petition, the elections official may use a random sampling technique for verification of signatures. The random sample of signatures to be verified must be drawn in a manner so that every signature filed with the elections official must have an equal opportunity to be included in the sample. The random sampling must include an examination of at least 500 or 5 percent of the signatures, whichever is greater. (Section 11225)

If the certificate shows that the petition is insufficient, no action must be taken on it, but the petition must remain on file. (Section 11226) If the elections official finds the signatures on the petition to be sufficient, he or she must submit his or her certificate as to the sufficiency of the petition to the governing body at its next regular meeting. The certificate must contain specified information. (Section 11227)

Article 3 deals with the recall elections and is contained in Sections 11240 – 11242. Within 14 days after the meeting at which the governing body received the certificate of sufficiency, the governing body must issue an order stating that an election must be held pursuant to this article to determine whether or not the officer named in the petition must be recalled. (Section 11240)

The election must be held not less than 88, nor more than 125, days after the issuance of the order, and if a regular or special election is to be held throughout the electoral jurisdiction of the officer sought to be recalled within this time period, the recall election must be held on the same day, and consolidated with, the regular or special election. (Section 11242)

Chapter 4 deals with general procedures and the final steps in the recall and is contained in Section2 11300 – 11386. Article 1 provides general provisions and is contained in Sections 11300 – 11303.

No insufficiency in a petition against any officer must bar the later filing of a new petition against that officer. (Section 11300) If a petition is found insufficient by the elections official or, in the case of the recall of a state officer, the Secretary of State, the petition signatures may be examined. (Section 11301) If a vacancy occurs in an office after a recall petition is filed against the vacating officer, the recall election must nevertheless proceed. (Section 11302)

A voter who has signed a recall petition must have his or her signature withdrawn from the petition upon filing a written request that includes the voter’s name, residence address, and signature with the election’s official prior to the day the petition section bearing the voter’s signature is filed. (Section 11303)

Article 2 deals with ballots and is contained in Sections 11320 – 11327. Specified information must appear on the ballots at every recall election, except in the case of a landowner voting district, with respect to each officer sought to be recalled. A voter must indicate, by using the stamp or other marking device to place a mark in the voting space opposite either “Yes” or “No”, his vote for or against the recall proposal, respectively. (Section 11323)

The official responsible for preparing the ballot must, at least 10 days before the recall election, mail a voter information guide to each registered voter of the electoral jurisdiction of the officer sought to be recalled. In the case of a recall of a state officer, the official responsible for preparing the voter information guide must include in the voter information guide the report of estimated costs of the recall prepared by the Department of Finance. (Section 11324)

With the voter information guide there must be mailed for each officer whose recall is sought, a printed copy of specified information. (Section 11325) An officer whose recall is being sought may file a statement with the elections official to be sent to each voter, together with the voter information guide. (Section 11327)

Article 3 deals with elections in general and is contained in Sections 11328 and 11329. A recall election must be conducted, canvassed, and the results declared in substantially the manner provided by law for a regular election for the office. (Section 11328) One election is sufficient for the recall of several officers. (Section 11329)

Article 4 deals with recall elections and is contained in Sections 11381 – 11386. Nominations of candidates to succeed the recalled officer must be made in the manner prescribed for nominating a candidate to that office in a regular election insofar as that procedure is consistent with this law, with specified exceptions. If one-half or more of the votes at a recall election are “No”, the officer sought to be recalled must continue in office. (Section 11383)

If a majority of the votes on a recall proposal are “Yes”, the officer sought to be recalled must be removed from office upon the qualification of his successor. (Section 11384) If at a recall election an officer is recalled, the candidate receiving the highest number of votes for the office must be declared elected for the unexpired term of the recalled officer. (Section 11385)

If the candidate who received the highest number of votes fails to qualify within 10 days after receiving his or her certificate of election, the office to which he or she was elected must be vacant, and must be filled according to law. (Section 11386)

Chapter 7 deals with the initiative, referendum and recall and is contained in Section 18600 – 18680. And, Article 1 deals with improper signature-gathering tactics and is contained in Sections 18600 – 19604. Every person is guilty of a misdemeanor takes certain improper actions. (Section 18600) An arrest or conviction must not invalidate or otherwise affect the validity of any signature obtained by the person arrested or convicted. (Section 18601)  

Any person working for the proponent or proponents of a statewide initiative or referendum measure who covers or otherwise obscures the summary of the measure prepared by the Attorney General from the view of a prospective signer is guilty of a misdemeanor. (Section 18602) Every person who offers or gives money or other valuable consideration to another in exchange for his or her signature on a state, county, municipal, or district initiative, referendum, or recall petition is guilty of a misdemeanor. (Section 18603)  

Upon conviction of a violation of any provision of this law, the court may order as a condition of probation that the convicted person be prohibited from receiving money or other valuable consideration for gathering signatures on an initiative, referendum, or recall petition. (Section 18604)

Article 2 deals with false or ineligible signatures on petitions and is contained in Section 18610 – 18614. Every person who solicits any circulator to affix to any initiative, referendum, or recall petition any false or forged signature, or to cause or permit a false or forged signature to be affixed, is guilty of a misdemeanor. (Section 18610)  

Every person is punishable by a fine not exceeding $5,000, or by imprisonment for 16 months or two or three years, or in a county jail not exceeding one year, or by both that fine and imprisonment, who circulates or causes to be circulated any initiative, referendum, or recall petition, knowing it to contain false, forged, or fictitious names. (Section 18611)  

Every person is guilty of a misdemeanor who knowingly signs his or her own name more than once to any initiative, referendum, or recall petition, or signs his or her name to that petition knowing himself or herself at the time of signing not to be qualified to sign it. (Section 18612)  

Every person who subscribes to any initiative, referendum, or recall petition a fictitious name, or who subscribes the name of another, or who causes another to subscribe such a name to that petition, is guilty of a felony and is punishable by imprisonment for two, three, or four years. (Section 18613) Every person is punishable by a fine not exceeding $5,000, or by imprisonment 16 months or two or three years, or in a county jail not exceeding one year, or by both that fine and imprisonment, who files in the office of the elections official or other officer designated by law to receive the filing, any initiative, referendum, or recall petition to which is attached, appended or subscribed any signature which the person filing the petition knows to be false or fraudulent or not the genuine signature of the person whose name it purports to be. (Section 18614)

Article 3 deals with the improper payments to prevent petition circulation and filing and is contained in Sections 18620 – 18622.

Every person who seeks, solicits, bargains for, or obtains any money, thing of value, or advantage of or from any person, firm, or corporation for the purpose or represented purpose of fraudulently inducing, persuading, or seeking the proponent or proponents of any initiative or referendum measure or recall petition to abandon the measure or petition, fail, neglect, or refuse to file in the office of the elections official or other officer designated by law, within the time required by law, the initiative or referendum measure or recall petition after securing the number of signatures required to qualify the measure or petition, stop the circulation of the initiative or referendum measure or recall petition, or perform any act that will prevent or aid in preventing the initiative or referendum measure or recall petition from qualifying as an initiative or referendum measure, or the recall petition from resulting in a recall election, is punishable by a fine not exceeding $5,000, or by imprisonment for 16 months or two or three years, or in a county jail not exceeding one year, or by both that fine and imprisonment. (Section 18621)  

Any proponent of an initiative or referendum measure or recall petition who seeks, solicits, bargains for, or obtains any money or thing of value of or from any person, firm, or corporation for the purpose of abandoning the same or stopping the circulation of petitions concerning the same, or failing or neglecting or refusing to file the measure or petition in the office of the elections official or other officer designated by law within the time required by law after obtaining the number of signatures required under the law to qualify the measure or petition, or withdrawing an initiative petition after filing it with the appropriate elections official, or performing any act that will prevent or aid in preventing the initiative, referendum, or recall proposed from qualifying as an initiative or referendum measure, or resulting in a recall election is punishable by a fine not $5,000 or by imprisonment for 16 months or two or three years, or in a county jail not exceeding one year, or by both that fine and imprisonment. (Section 18621)

Article 4 deals with threats and theft to prevent petitions from circulation and filings and is contained in Sections 18630 – 18631. Every person who threatens to commit an assault or battery on a person circulating a referendum, initiative, or recall petition or on a relative of a person circulating a referendum, initiative, or recall petition or to inflict damage on the property of the circulator or the relative, with the intent to dissuade the circulator from circulating the petition or in retribution for the circulation, is guilty of a misdemeanor. (Section 18630)  

Every person who forcibly or by stealth takes from the possession of a circulator any initiative, referendum, or recall petition on which one or more persons have affixed their signatures is guilty of a misdemeanor. (Section 18631)

Article 5 deals with the refusal of circulators to turn in petitions and is contained in Section 18640. Any person working for the proponent or proponents of an initiative or referendum measure or recall petition who solicits signatures to qualify the measure or petition and accepts any payment therefor and who fails to surrender the measure or petition to the proponents thereof for filing is punishable by a fine not exceeding $5,000, or by imprisonment for 16 months or two or three years, or in a county jail not exceeding one year, or by both that fine and imprisonment. (Section 18640)

Article 6 deals with the misuse of signatures on petitions and is contained in Section 18650. No one must knowingly or willfully permit the list of signatures on an initiative, referendum, or recall petition to be used for any purpose other than qualification of the initiative or referendum measure or recall question for the ballot. Violation of this section is a misdemeanor. (Section 18650)

Article 7 deals with false affidavits concerning petitions and is contained in Sections 18660 and 18661. Every person is punishable by a fine not exceeding $5,000, or by imprisonment for 16 months or two or three years, or in a county jail not exceeding one year, or by both that fine and imprisonment, who makes any false affidavit concerning an initiative, referendum, or recall petition or the signatures appended to an initiative, referendum, or recall petition. (Section 18660)

Every public official or employee is punishable by a fine not exceeding $5,000, or by imprisonment for 16 months or two or three years, or in a county jail not exceeding one year, or by both that fine and imprisonment, who knowingly makes any false return, certification or affidavit concerning any initiative, referendum, or recall petition or the signatures appended thereto. (Section 18661)

Article 8 deals with the filing of petitions to defeat an initiative or referendum and is contained in Sections 18670 and 18671. Every person is guilty of a misdemeanor who, either as principal or agent, files in the office of the Secretary of State, county elections official, or in the office of any other officer designated by law to receive the filing, a petition or any section of a petition relating to the Constitution or the laws of this state, authorized by the Constitution or laws of this state regulating the statewide initiative or referendum, with the intention of thereby defeating that initiative or referendum measure that is embraced in the petition. (Section 18670)  

Any petition, or any section of a petition, filed by any person other than the proponents of an initiative or referendum measure and with an intention of defeating an expression of the public will is null and void. (Section 18671)  

Every person who is entrusted with money or things of value for the purpose of promoting or defeating any initiative, referendum, or recall petition or any measure that has qualified for the ballot is a trustee of the money or things of value. If a person wrongfully appropriates the money or things of value to any use or purpose not in the due and lawful execution of the trust, the person must be punishable by a fine not exceeding $5,000, or by imprisonment for 16 months or two or three years, or in a county jail not exceeding one year, or by both that fine and imprisonment. The law sets forth expenses that are within the due and lawful execution of the trust. (Section 18680)

Chris Micheli

Chris Micheli is a Principal with the Sacramento governmental relations firm of Aprea & Micheli, Inc. He is also an Adjunct Professor at McGeorge School of Law in its Capital Lawyering Program.
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