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General Provisions of California’s Elections Code

California Elections Code contains the list of state laws which govern our elections

By Chris Micheli, January 24, 2022 3:29 pm

As with most of the other 28 California Codes, the California Elections Code begins with General Provisions contained in Chapter 1, Division 0.5. Section 1 states that this act is known as the Elections Code. Section 2 specifies that the provisions of the Elections Code, insofar as they are substantially the same as existing statutory provisions relating to the same subject matter, shall be construed as restatements and continuations, and not as new enactments.

Section 3 provides that, if any provision of this code or the application thereof to any person or circumstance is held invalid, the remainder of the code and the application of that provision to other persons or circumstances is not affected. Section 4 states that these general provisions, rules of construction, and definitions will govern the construction of the Elections Code.

Section 5 provides that division, part, chapter, article, and section headings do not in any manner affect the scope, meaning, or intent of the Elections Code. Section 6 specifies that, whenever a power is granted to, or a duty is imposed upon, a public officer, the power may be exercised or the duty may be performed by a deputy of the officer or by a person authorized, pursuant to law, by the officer, unless the Elections Code expressly provides otherwise.

Section 7 provides that writing includes any form of recorded message capable of comprehension by ordinary visual means. Section 8 specifies that the present tense includes the past and future tenses, and the future the present; the masculine gender includes the feminine; and the singular includes the plural, and the plural, the singular. Section 9 provides for the counting of words.

Section 10 specifies that the Secretary of State is the chief elections officer of the state, and has the powers and duties specified in this code. The Secretary of State is required to make reasonable efforts to do all of the following:

  • Promote voter registration to eligible voters.
  • Encourage eligible voters to vote.
  • Promote preregistration to eligible citizens.
  • Promote civic learning and engagement to prepare students and new citizens to register to vote and to vote.

In undertaking these efforts, the Secretary of State must prioritize communities that have been historically underrepresented in voter registration or voting. In addition, the Secretary of State is required to incorporate messages into public election materials produced by the Secretary of State that promote awareness of, and encourage participation in, the census.

Section 10.5 establishes within the Secretary of State the Office of Elections Cybersecurity. The primary missions of the Office of Elections Cybersecurity are to coordinate efforts between the Secretary of State and local elections officials to reduce the likelihood and severity of cyber incidents that could interfere with the security or integrity of elections in the state, as well as to monitor and counteract false or misleading information regarding the electoral process that is published online or on other platforms and that may suppress voter participation or cause confusion and disruption of the orderly and secure administration of elections. The Office of Elections Cybersecurity is required to perform numerous duties.

Section 11 provides, on written call of the Secretary of State, the county elections officials, city elections officials, and registrars of voters of this state may meet with the approval of their legislative bodies, at the time and place within this state designated in the call, to discuss matters affecting the administration of the election laws and to promote uniformity of procedure in those matters.

Section 12 specifies that, whenever any candidate files a declaration of candidacy, nomination paper, or any other paper evidencing an intention to be a candidate for any public office at any election in this state with either the Secretary of State or a county elections official, the candidate must by the filing irrevocably appoint the Secretary of State or the county elections official with whom the filing is made, and their successors in office, the candidate’s attorneys upon whom all process in any action or proceeding against him or her concerning his or her candidacy or the election laws may be served with the same effect as if the candidate had been lawfully served with process.

Section 13 prohibits any person from being considered a legally qualified candidate for an office, for party nomination for a partisan office, or for nomination to participate in the general election for a voter-nominated office, under the laws of this state unless that person has filed a declaration of candidacy or statement of write-in candidacy with the proper official for the particular election or primary, or is entitled to have his or her name placed on a general election ballot by reason of having been nominated at a primary election, or having been selected to fill a vacancy on the general election ballot.

In addition, it is the intent of the Legislature, in enacting this section, to enable the Federal Communications Commission to determine who is a “legally qualified candidate” in this state for the purposes of administering provisions of federal law.

Section 13.5 prohibits a person from being considered a legally qualified candidate for any of the offices unless that person has filed a declaration of candidacy, nomination papers, or statement of write-in candidacy, accompanied by documentation, including, but not necessarily limited to, certificates, declarations under penalty of perjury, diplomas, or official correspondence, sufficient to establish, in the determination of the official with whom the declaration or statement is filed, that the person meets each qualification established for service in that office.

This section applies to the following offices and qualifications therefor:

  • For the office of county auditor.
  • For the office of county district attorney.
  • For the office of county sheriff.
  • For the office of county superintendent of schools.
  • For the office of judge of the superior court.
  • For the office of county treasurer, county tax collector, or county treasurer-tax collector.

Section 14 provides that, in case of a disaster in which a portion or all of the voting records of any county are destroyed, the Governor may appoint an election commission to outline and recommend procedures to be followed in the conduct of regular or special elections. The commission consists of the Governor, the Secretary of State, the Attorney General, and the county elections official of each county in which destruction occurs.

Section 15 notes that, if the last day for the performance of any act provided for or required by this code shall be a holiday, the act may be performed upon the next business day with the same effect as if it had been performed upon the day appointed.

Section 16 requires certain documents to be provided by the elections official to each candidate or his or her agent at the time of filing the declaration of candidacy and to the proponents of a local initiative or referendum at the time of filing the petitions.

Section 17 requires the Secretary of State to establish and maintain administrative complaint procedures, pursuant to the requirements of the federal Help America Vote Act of 2002, in order to remedy grievances in the administration of elections.

Section 20 states that a person cannot be considered a candidate for, and is not eligible to be elected to, any state or local elective office if the person has been convicted of a felony involving accepting or giving, or offering to give, any bribe, the embezzlement of public money, extortion or theft of public money, perjury, or conspiracy to commit any of those crimes.

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