Difference between revisions of "California Secretary of State"

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{{Secretaries of state}}
{{Secretaries of state}}
{{State executive officials}}
{{State executive offices}}

Revision as of 14:25, 2 July 2013

California Secretary of State
General information
Office Type:  Partisan
Office website:  Official Link
2012-2013 FY Budget:  $103,186,000
Term limits:  2 terms
Length of term:   4 years
Authority:  California Constitution, Article 5, Section 11
Selection Method:  Elected
Current Officeholder

Debra Bowen.jpg
Name:  Debra Bowen
Officeholder Party:  Democratic
Assumed office:  January 2007
Compensation:  $130,490
Next election:  Term-limited
Last election:  November 2, 2010
Other California Executive Offices
GovernorLieutenant GovernorSecretary of StateAttorney GeneralTreasurerAuditorControllerSuperintendent of Public InstructionAgriculture SecretaryInsurance CommissionerNatural Resources SecretaryIndustrial Relations DirectorPublic Utilities Commission
The California Secretary of State is an elected state executive officer established by the California Constitution. He or she serves as the state's chief election officer, keeps the state's key documents including the constitution and Great Seal, and keeps the state archives. Additionally, the secretary of state registers businesses in the state, commissions notaries public, and manages state ballot initiatives. The secretary of state is elected to four year terms, concurrent with the other constitutional officers of California, and is restricted to two terms.[1]

Current officeholder

The current secretary is Debra Bowen, a Democrat, who was first elected to the office in 2006 and re-elected in 2010. Bowen's current term will end in January 2015, after which she will be constitutionally barred from holding office by term limits.

Before becoming secretary of state, Bowen served eight years in the California State Senate from 1998 to 2006. Prior to that, she spent eight years in the California State Assembly from 1992 to 1998. Before entering politics, she practiced corporate, tax and ERISA law at the firms of Winston and Strawn and Hughes, Hubbard & Reed. Her husband is Mark Nechodom, Senior Advisor for Environmental Markets in the office of the U.S. Secretary of Agriculture.[2]


The office of secretary of state is established by the California Constitution.

California Constitution, Article 5, Section 11

The Lieutenant Governor, Attorney General, Controller, Secretary of State, and Treasurer shall be elected at the same time and places and for the same term as the Governor.


Although there are no office-specific requirements for the office, each candidate for secretary of state must:[3]

  • Be a registered voter
  • Be registered with their party for at least three months
    • Not have been registered with a different political party in the last 12 months
  • Not have been previously term-limited out


Secretaries of state are elected on the first Tuesday after the first Monday in federal midterm election years, e.g. 2006, 2010, 2014, and 2018.[4] Like all constitutional state officers, the secretary of state assumes office on the first Monday in the new year following the election. Thus, January 3, 2011 and January 5, 2015 are inaugural days.

California Constitution, Article 5, Section 11

The Lieutenant Governor, Attorney General, Controller, Secretary of State, and Treasurer shall be elected at the same time and places and for the same term as the Governor. No Lieutenant Governor, Attorney General, Controller, Secretary of State, or Treasurer may serve in the same office for more than 2 terms.

Term limits

Per Article 5, Section 2 of the California Constitution, secretaries of state face an absolute limit of two terms in office.


The vacancy procedure for the office of secretary of state is determined by the Constitution. When a vacancy occurs, the governor nominates a replacement to serve the remainder of the term under the next election. The appointee must be confirmed by a majority of both house of the California legislature. Until the replacement is approved, the former officeholder's chief deputy exercises the office.

California Constitution, Article 5, Section 5b

Whenever there is a vacancy in the office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction, the Lieutenant Governor, Secretary of State, Controller, Treasurer, or Attorney General, or on the State Board of Equalization, the Governor shall nominate a person to fill the vacancy who shall take office upon confirmation by a majority of the membership of the Senate and a majority of the membership of the Assembly and who shall hold office for the balance of the unexpired term. In the event the nominee is neither confirmed nor refused confirmation by both the Senate and the Assembly within 90 days of the submission of the nomination, the nominee shall take office as if he or she had been confirmed by a majority of the Senate and Assembly; provided, that if such 90-day period ends during a recess of the Legislature, the period shall be extended until the sixth day following the day on which the Legislature reconvenes.


The secretary of state's duties include:

  • Serving as the state's Chief Elections Officer
  • Implementing electronic filing and Internet disclosure of campaign and lobbyist financial information
  • Maintaining business filings
  • Commissioning notaries public
  • Operating the Safe at Home Confidential Address Program
  • Maintaining the Domestic Partners and Advance Health Care Directive Registries
  • Safeguarding the State Archives
  • Serving as a trustee of the California Museum for History, Women & the Arts[5]
Click here to view larger-scale image of the California SOS Organizational Chart as of February 2013.


The Secretary of State oversees 5 divisions. These are:[6]

  • Elections and Voter Information
  • Campaign and Lobbying Information
  • California Business Portal
  • Archives and the California Museum

State budget

The budget for the California Secretary of State's Office in the 2012-2013 Fiscal Year was $103,186,000.[7]


In 2010, the secretary of state received compensation in the amount of $130,490.[8] The secretary's salary, like that of all other state elected officials, is determined by the California Citizens Compensation Commission on an annual basis. The last time the secretary's compensation was changed was 2009, when the office's salary and benefits were cut by 18 percent.

Historical officeholders

Note: Ballotpedia's state executive officials project researches state official websites for chronological lists of historical officeholders. That information for the California Secretary of State has not yet been added because the information was unavailable on the relevant state official websites, or we are currently in the process of formatting the list for this office. If you have any additional information about this office for inclusion on this section and/or page, please email us.

Recent news

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Contact Information

Capitol Address:

1500 11th Street
Sacramento, CA 95814
Phone: (916) 653-6814

See also

External links