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Election Administration

Elections in California are administered by the California Secretary of State Elections and Voter Information.

The Secretary of State's Elections Division has a wide variety of responsibilities in administering elections in California. The division is responsible for everything from certifying the official lists of candidates to determining which types of voting systems are acceptable for use in California.

The Elections Division advises candidates and local elections officials on the qualifications and requirements for running for office, provides guidance on choosing acceptable candidate ballot designations, and determines the order of the candidates on the ballot.

The Elections Division tracks and certifies ballot initiatives. If a state measure goes on the ballot, the Elections Division has verified that it has met the requirements for placement.

Once those candidates are placed on the ballot, the Elections Division coordinates the tabulation of the votes from each county on election night. The Elections Division is responsible for producing the official Statements of Vote after each election. These are the official compilation of vote totals for a given election.

Our Division also has a comprehensive Voter Registration and Outreach Team. This team's scope of responsibilities include printing registration forms, encouraging registration and voter turnout, and producing several voter information publications.

Election Law

Electoral College in California

Selection of Electors in California

On or before October 1 of the presidential election year, each party's nominee must file a list containing the names, addresses, and telephone numbers of the 55 electors pledges to him/her. Each party determines its own method for selecting electors.

In the Democratic Party, each congressional nominee and each US Senate nominee (determined by the last two elections) designates one elector.

In the Republican Party, the nominees for governor, lieutenant governor, treasurer, controller, attorney general, secretary of state, United States Senators (again, going back two elections) the Senate and Assembly GOP leaders, all elected officers of the GOP state central committee, the national committeeman and committeewoman, the president of the GOP county central committee chairmen's organization and the chair or president of each GOP volunteer organization officially recognized by the state central committee act as electors.

No incumbent Senators, congressional representatives or persons holding an office of trust or profit of the United States can serve as electors.

American Independent electors are selected at the party's nominating convention, as are those of the Green, Libertarian, Natural Law, and Peace & Freedom parties, who further specify a 50/50 ratio of men and women.

Electoral College Proceedings

On the first Monday after the second Wednesday in December (December 13, 2004), the electors pledged to the presidential slate that wins the popular vote in California in November convene in the Assembly Chambers of the State Capitol at 2:00 p.m. to cast their votes.

The Governor convenes the Electoral College. The electors cast separate ballots for President and Vice-President; they then sign, certify, seal, and deliver the results of each ballot to the Governor, who transmits the vote results to the Secretary of the United States Senate for transmittal to the President of the Senate; the Senate tallies the states' votes and officially declares the result to President.

Candidates for Election


Qualified Parties

Independent Candidates

To be eligible as an independent candidate at the general election, the potential candidate:

1) Cannot have filed as a partisan candidate at the primary election and have been defeated for the party's nomination at that primary election; and, 2) Cannot have been registered to vote in California since October 2, 2003, as being affiliated with a qualified political party.

The nomination signature requirement for persons seeking an independent candidacy is based on the previous general election's registration figures.

Write-in Candidates

Ballot Position

The names of the candidates and their vice presidential running mates appear on the ballot

Election Results

The official election results for California are published in a document titled The Official Canvass of the Vote. The canvass is assembled as follows:

Immediately upon the close of polls on election day, the county elections officials and the Secretary of State begin what is called the "semifinal official canvass of the vote" - the tallying of early-returned absentees and the ballots cast in each of the state's 21,796 voting precincts. The semifinal official canvass begins at 8:00 p.m. on election night and continues uninterrupted until the last precinct is counted and reported to the Secretary of State.

The vote tallying process actually begins before election night, with the absentee ballots. Any county that counts its ballots by computer (all 58 do) may begin processing absentees seven (7) days before the election. Having verified the signatures on the return envelopes, elections officials remove the voted ballots and process them through their vote tallying system. Under no circumstances may they tabulate the results until after the close of polls on election day. Most counties continue this processing until they begin their election-day preparations for counting the precinct vote. Mail ballots not counted by that time and all those received on election day, either through the mail or at the precincts, are tabulated during the official canvass of the vote.

The California Elections Code requires that the official canvass begin no later than the Thursday following the election, that it be open to the public, and that it continue daily (Saturdays, Sundays, and holidays excepted) for not less than six hours each day until completed. The county elections officials must complete the official canvass no later than the 29th day after the election and submit a certified statement of the results of the election to the Secretary of State by the 35th day.

By law, the activities undertaken during the official canvass include:

  1. Processing and counting any valid absentee and provisional ballots not included in the semifinal official canvass. Provisional ballots are cast by voters whose names do not appear on the precinct roster. The voter uses a regular precinct ballot which is then placed in a special envelope that the voter must sign, much like an absentee envelope. During the official canvass, the elections official checks the voter registration file to verify the voter's eligibility to cast the ballot. Once verified, the ballot is added to the official count. These ballots added to the absentees not processed on election night can number 300,000 to 800,000. Based on the number of absentees requested, that number may be even larger for this election, perhaps as many as 1,000,000 ballots to be processed during the official canvass.
  2. An inspection of all materials and supplies returned by poll workers.
  3. A reconciliation of the number of signatures on the roster with the number of ballots recorded on the ballot statement.
  4. A reconciliation of the number of ballots counted, spoiled, canceled, or invalidated due to identifying marks or overvotes with the number of votes counted, including absentee and provisional ballots.
  5. Counting any valid write-in votes.
  6. Reproducing any damaged ballots, if necessary.
  7. Conducting a hand count of the ballots cast in one (1) percent of the precincts, chosen at random by the elections official.
  8. Reporting final results to the Secretary of State, as required.

No later than the 39th day after the election, the Secretary of State must determine the votes cast for candidates for state and federal office and for the statewide ballot measures, certify those results, and issue certificates of election to those candidates who were elected.

At the conclusion of the official canvass, the Secretary of State certifies the electors to the Governor and by the first Monday in December issues certificates of election to the electors, along with a notice of the time and place of the meeting of the Electoral College and a statement that they are entitled to per die m allowance and mileage, as specified.

Presidential Election Results

Senatorial Election Results

Gubernatorial Election Results


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