Signature requirements for ballot measures in California

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This page details signature requirements for statewide ballot measures in California.
California
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List of propositions

In California, the number of signatures needed to qualify a measure for the ballot is based on the total number of votes cast for the office of Governor. For initiated constitutional amendments, petitioners must collect signatures equal to 8% of the most recent gubernatorial vote. To place a statute or veto referendum on the ballot, signatures equal to 5% of this vote are required.

Year Amendment Statute Veto referendum
2011-2014 807,615 504,760 504,760
2007-2010 694,354 433,971 433,971
2003-2006 598,105 373,816 373,816
1999-2002 670,816 419,260 419,260
1995-1998 693,230 433,269 433,269
1991-1994 615,958 384,974 384,974
1987-1990 595,485 372,178 372,178
1983-1986 630,135 393,835 393,835
1979-1982 553,790 346,119 346,119
1975-1978 499,846 312,404 312,404
1971-1974 520,806 325,504 325,504

DocumentIcon.jpg See law: California Constitution, Article II, Section 8 (b)

Basis of calculation

See also: California ballot initiative petition signature costs

In 2010, a total of 10,095,185 votes were cast for the Office of Governor.[1]

Filing deadlines

Supporters are given a maximum of 150 days to circulate petitions and collect signatures, starting from when the California Attorney General has reviewed their initiative wording and provided them a ballot title. Regardless of when the circulation period starts, however, the initiative measure must qualify at least 131 days before the next statewide election at which it is to be submitted to the voters, according to Article II, Section 8 of the California Constitution.

The California Secretary of State's office recommends that supporters consider shortening the circulation period "in order to ensure that the proposed initiative measure qualifies at least 131 days before the next statewide election."[2]

Suggested deadlines

See also: List of California ballot propositions

The California Secretary of State prepares a "suggested initiative deadlines" document from time-to-time. By working backward from the final deadline through the various steps in the qualification process, the Secretary produces a list of suggested deadlines for the each of the required steps. The document is prefaced with a disclaimer, "The following suggested deadlines are not substitutes for California election laws, regulations, or policy. Other factors, such as amending the initiative measure before circulation or the length of time for circulation, will affect the time it takes to complete the process."[3]

Separate deadlines are suggested depending on whether a random sample or full check method of verification is employed. If proponents can collect 110% of the signatures required, their petition qualifies for verification by a random sampling. If the sample indicates that less than 95% of the signature are valid, the measure is not certified. If the sample shows that between 95% and 110% of the signatures are valid, county elections officials must verify every signature (a full check). If the sample indicates that more than 110% of the signatures are valid, then the measure is certified for the ballot. If petitioners submit a ballot measure on the random sample schedule and that measure requires a full check, the measure will be delayed until the next ballot.[3][4]

2014

See also: Petition drive deadlines, 2014
November 4 general
Verification procedure Request title Title issued, circulation begins File signatures with counties Raw count completed SOS notifies counties Counties certify results to SOS SOS announces if 100% count required 100% signature check completed SOS announces fate
Random sample September 27, 2013 November 19, 2013 April 18, 2014 April 30, 2014 May 9, 2014 June 23, 2014 June 26, 2014 NA NA
Full check August 8, 2013 October 1, 2013 February 28, 2014 March 12, 2014 March 19, 2014 May 1, 2014 May 9, 2014 June 23, 2014 June 26, 2014

2012

See also: Petition drive deadlines, 2012
November 6 general
Verification procedure Request title Title issued, circulation begins File signatures with counties Raw count completed SOS notifies counties Counties certify results to SOS SOS announces if 100% count required 100% signature check completed SOS announces fate
Random sample September 30, 2011 November 22, 2011 April 20, 2012 May 2, 2012 May 11, 2012 June 25, 2012 June 28, 2012 NA NA
Full check August 11, 2011 October 4, 2011 March 2, 2012 March 14, 2012 March 23, 2012 May 4, 2012 May 14, 2012 June 26, 2012 June 28, 2012
June 5 primary

Note: With the enactment of California Senate Bill 202, signed by Jerry Brown on October 7, there were only two initiatives on the June 5, 2012 ballot in California. These were two initiatives that qualified for the ballot prior to the enactment of SB 202. The dates and deadlines in the chart below were rendered irrelevant due to SB 202.

Verification procedure Request title Title issued, circulation begins File signatures with counties Raw count completed SOS notifies counties Counties certify results to SOS SOS announces if 100% count required 100% signature check completed SOS announces fate
Random sample May 4, 2011 June 24, 2011 November 21, 2011 December 5, 2011 December 8, 2011 January 24, 2012 January 26, 2012 NA NA
Full check March 4, 2011 April 26, 2011 September 23, 2011 October 5, 2011 October 14, 2011 November 30, 2011 December 7, 2011 January 23, 2012 January 26, 2012
February 7 presidential primary

Note: This timeline was prepared by the California Secretary of State before the State of California decided that there would not be a February 2012 presidential primary. Since that primary was moved to the regular June ballot, this chart is included here for historical purposes only.

Verification procedure Request title Title issued, circulation begins File signatures with counties Raw count completed SOS notifies counties Counties certify results to SOS SOS announces if 100% count required 100% signature check completed SOS announces fate
Random sample December 31, 2010 February 22, 2011 July 22, 2011 August 3, 2011 August 12, 2011 September 27, 2011 September 29, 2011 NA NA
Full check November 10, 2010 January 4, 2011 June 3, 2011 June 15, 2011 June 20, 2011 August 2, 2011 August 12, 2011 September 27, 2011 September 29, 2011

2010

November 2 general
Verification procedure Request title Title issued, circulation begins File signatures with counties Raw count completed SOS notifies counties Counties certify results to SOS SOS announces if 100% count required 100% signature check completed SOS announces fate
Random sample September 25, 2009 November 17, 2009 April 16, 2010 April 28, 2010 May 7, 2010 June 21, 2010 June 24, 2010 NA NA
Full check August 6, 2009 September 29, 2009 February 26, 2010 March 10, 2010 March 18, 2010 April 30, 2010 May 9, 2010 June 21, 2010 June 24, 2010
June 8 primary
Verification procedure Request title Title issued, circulation begins File signatures with counties Raw count completed SOS notifies counties Counties certify results to SOS SOS announces if 100% count required 100% signature check completed SOS announces fate
Random sample April 29, 2009 June 19, 2009 November 16, 2009 November 30, 2009 December 9, 2009 January 25, 2010 January 28, 2010 NA NA
Full check March 6, 2009 April 28, 2009 September 25, 2009 October 7, 2009 October 15, 2009 December 1, 2009 December 10, 2009 January 26, 2010 January 28, 2010

Signature verification

Once proponents of an initiative have collected their signatures, they submit the signatures to the election division of each county where signatures were collected. Once the signatures are filed, county election officials have eight working days to:

Raw count

After the Secretary of State has collected reports from the counties around the state, he or she must determine whether the raw count of signatures as provided by county officials adds up to at least 100% of the required number of signatures. If the raw count does not reach the minimum number of required signatures, the Secretary of State is required to immediately notify the appropriate county officials that the initiative has failed and that they need take no further action.

Random sample

If the raw count equals 100% or more of the required number of signature, the Secretary of State notifies county officials that they are to inspect some of the signatures in their care for validity within 30 working days. Specifically, county officials use a random sampling procedure to choose either 500 or 3% of the signatures filed in their county (whichever is greater). Once selected, the signatures are examined and verified. (In counties where 500 or fewer signatures were submitted, officials must inspect all the signatures for validity.)

Once a county election department has inspected the required number of signatures, they report the percentage of valid signatures to the Secretary of State. For example, if a county inspects 500 signatures and determines that 400 of those signatures are valid, they would report that they had found a validity rate of 80%.

The 95%-110% rule

After the Office of the Secretary of State has collected information about validity rates from all counties where signatures were filed, the office applies a formula to estimate the number of valid signatures statewide.

  • If this calculation determines that the number of valid signatures is less than 95% of the requirement, the Secretary of State issues a "failure notice," which declares that the proposition has failed to qualify for the ballot.
  • If the calculation determines that the number of valid signatures is greater than 110% of the requirement, the Secretary of State as per Section 9030 and 9033 certifies that the proposition has qualified for the ballot "without further verification."

Full check

However, if the calculation by the Secretary of State determines that the number of valid signatures on the petition falls somewhere between 95%-110%, the Secretary of State then must direct election officials in counties where signatures were filed to inspect every single signature filed in their county for validity. This process is known as the "full check." County election officials are required to complete the full check within 30 working days of the time they receive notification from the Secretary of State.

Because it takes much longer to qualify a petition by full check, petition sponsors are encouraged either to collect enough signatures pass the 110% threshold or to allow plenty of additional time if they are likely to fall within the 95%-110% window.

Recall

For recall, proponents must file a notice-of-intent-to-recall petition signed by 65 voters. For the actual petition, signatures must equal 12% (20% for state legislative recalls) of the last vote for the targeted office. In addition, the petition must include signatures from each of at least five counties equal in number to 1% of the last vote for the office in that county.

See also

2012

External links

References