The California Elections Code regulates petitions and petition signers in Chapter 2 of Division 0.5 in Sections 100 to 108. Section 100 provides that, whenever an initiative, referendum, recall, nominating petition or paper, or any other petition or paper, is required to be signed by voters of a county, city, school district, or special district subject to petitioning, only a person who is an eligible registered voter at the time of signing the petition or paper is entitled to sign the petition or paper (being at least 18 years of age).
A signer is required at the time of signing the petition or paper to personally affix his or her signature, printed name, and place of residence, including the street and number of the place of residence and, if no street or number for the place of residence exists, then a designation of the place of residence that will enable the location to be readily ascertained.
Section 100.5 provides that a voter who is unable to personally affix on a petition or paper the information required may request another person to print the voter’s name and place of residence on the appropriate spaces of the petition or paper, but the voter must personally affix his or her mark or signature on the appropriate space of the petition or paper, which must be witnessed by one person by subscribing his or her name.
Section 101 specifies that a state or local initiative petition required to be signed by voters is required to contain in 11-point type, before that portion of the petition for voters’ signatures, printed names, and residence addresses, the following language, in order:
- “NOTICE TO THE PUBLIC:”. This text must be in a boldface font.
- If the petition does not include the disclosure statement, the text “YOU HAVE THE RIGHT TO SEE AN “OFFICIAL TOP FUNDERS” SHEET.” This text must be in a boldface font.
- “THIS PETITION MAY BE CIRCULATED BY A PAID SIGNATURE GATHERER OR A VOLUNTEER. YOU HAVE THE RIGHT TO ASK.”
In addition, a state initiative petition is required to contain the following language:
“THE PROPONENTS OF THIS PROPOSED INITIATIVE MEASURE HAVE THE RIGHT TO WITHDRAW THIS PETITION AT ANY TIME BEFORE THE MEASURE QUALIFIES FOR THE BALLOT.”
Section 101 prohibits a person from circulating a state or local initiative, referendum, or recall petition or nominating paper unless the person is 18 years of age or older. Section 103 requires a voter who has signed an initiative, referendum, or recall petition pursuant to the Constitution or laws of this state to 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 appropriate county elections official or city elections official prior to the day the petition is filed.
Section 104 requires that, wherever any petition or paper is submitted to the elections official, each section of the petition or paper must have attached to it a declaration signed by the circulator of the petition or paper, setting forth, in the circulator’s own hand, the following:
- The printed name of the circulator.
- The residence address of the circulator, giving street and number, or if no street or number exists, adequate designation of residence so that the location may be readily ascertained.
- The dates between which all the signatures to the petition or paper were obtained.
In addition, each declaration submitted must also set forth the following:
- That the circulator circulated that section and witnessed the appended signatures being written.
- That according to the best information and belief of the circulator, each signature is the genuine signature of the person whose name it purports to be.
- That the circulator is 18 years of age or older.
The circulator must certify 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 the circulator’s name.
Section 105 provides that, for purposes of verifying a signature on an initiative, referendum, recall, nomination, or other election petition or paper, the elections official is required to determine that the residence address on the petition or paper is the same as the residence address on the affidavit of registration.
Section 106 specifies that any registered voter who is a candidate for any office may obtain signatures to and sign his or her own nomination papers. The candidate’s signature must be given the same effect as that of any other qualified signer.
Section 107 requires a committee that pays for the circulation of a state or local initiative, referendum, or recall petition must create an Official Top Funders sheet, with all text in a black roman type with a type size of 14 point on a plain, contrasting background, and centered horizontally.
At the top of the sheet must appear the text “OFFICIAL TOP FUNDERS. Valid only for”, followed by a month and year that starts at most seven days after the date the top contributors were last confirmed. This text must be boldface and with a type size of at least 16 point.
Next, separated by a blank horizontal line from the text, must appear the title of the initiative, referendum, or recall as it appears on the petition, in all capital letters. Then, separated by a blank horizontal line from the text, must appear a disclosure statement in a printed or drawn box with a black border. At the top of the disclosure statement must appear the text “Petition circulation paid for by” in boldface text.
Next, on a separate horizontal line, must appear the name of the committee as it appears on the most recent Statement of Organization. If the committee has any top contributors, it must be followed by a blank horizontal line and then the underlined text “Committee major funding from:”.
The top contributors, if any, must each be disclosed in boldface text on a separate horizontal line separate from any other text, in descending order, beginning with the top contributor who made the largest cumulative contributions on the first line.
The following line must include the text “Latest Official Top Funders:” followed by either the internet web page on the Secretary of State’s internet website that lists the “Official Top Funders” statements that are reported or the internet website.
If the petition is a state initiative petition, next, separated by at least two blank horizontal lines from the disclosures are required to appear the text “OFFICIAL TITLE AND SUMMARY (SAME AS ON PETITION)”, in boldface text in all capital letters.
If the petition is a state initiative petition, next, starting on a separate horizontal line, must appear the text “The Attorney General of California has prepared the following circulating title and summary of the chief purpose and points of the proposed measure:”, in boldface text with a type size of 11 point.
Any committee that pays for the circulation of a state or local initiative, referendum, or recall petition may create a page on an internet website that includes a prominent link to the most recent Official Top Funders sheet, as well as a prominent link to the full text of the initiative or referendum.
A committee that circulates a state initiative, referendum, or recall petition is required to submit the Official Top Funders sheet and any updates to that statement, to the Secretary of State, who must post that statement on the Secretary of State’s internet website along with the previous versions the committee submitted.
In addition, this section does not require a local elections official to verify the accuracy of the information required by this section or to re-approve the petition upon any updates the committee makes. Signatures collected on an initiative, referendum, or recall petition are not invalid solely because the information required by this section was absent or inaccurate.
Section 108 allows the pages of a petition to be bound together by any reasonable method, including the use of staples.
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