California signature requirements

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California signature requirements, as with many states, depend on the number of votes cast for governor in the previous general election. The number of signatures for an initiative and a referendum are the same, whereas a constitutional amendment requires a larger number. Because of California's large population, the total number of signatures required for any method are the highest in the country.

Signature requirements

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

In 2010, a total of 10,094,839 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 from the time that the California Attorney General has reviewed their initiative wording and provided 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 for 2010

See also: California 2010 ballot propositions

The California Secretary of State prepares a "suggested initiative deadlines" document from time-to-time that by working backward from the final deadline through the various steps in the qualification process produces a list of suggested deadlines for the various steps required. 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]

For June 8, 2010 ballot

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 fate of initiative
Random sample April 29, 2009 June 19, 2009 November 16, 2009 November 30, 2009 December 9, 2009 January 25, 2010 January 28, 2010

For November 2, 2010 ballot

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
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

Recall

  • For recall, there must be a filing of a notice-of-intent-to-recall petition signed by 65 voters.

Once the actual petition is circulated, signatures must equal 12% (20% for state legislators) of the last vote for the offical being recalled, including voters from each of five counties equal in number to 1% of the last vote for the office in that county.

Signature verification

Once proponents of an initiatives 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 where signatures were filed, 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 total the minimum number of required signatures, the Secretary of State is required to mmediately notify the appropriate county officials that the initiative has failed and that they need take no further action on it.

Random sample

If the raw count of signatures does equal 100% (or more) of the total number of signatures needed to qualify the proposition, 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, the county officials are to use a random sampling procedure to choose the greater of 500 signatures or 3% of the signatures filed in their county; and they then must determine how many of those signatures are valid. (In counties where 500 or fewer signatures were submitted, the county must inspect all the signatures for validity.)

Once a county election department has inspected the required number of signatures, they are to report to the Secretary of State the percentage of valid signatures they discovered. 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 determine the statewide total of valid signatures.

  • If this calculation determines that the number of valid signatures is less than 95% of the number of required signatures, 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 required number of signatures, the Secretary of State as per Section 9030 and 9033 determines 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 that they receive a notification from the Secretary of State saying they need to perform a full check.

Because it takes much longer to qualify a petition for the ballot if the number of signatures is determined in the random sampling procedure to fall within the 95%-110% range than if the number of signatures is determined to be higher than 110% of those required, petition sponsors are encouraged either to collect enough signatures to go over the 110% threshold, or to allow plenty of additional time if it is likely they will fall within the 95%-110% window.

See also

External links

References