Difference between revisions of "California Secretary of State"

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| 2|| James W. Denver || 1853-1855 || {{blue dot}}
| 2|| James W. Denver || 1853-1855 || {{blue dot}}

Revision as of 11:41, 24 April 2014

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 & Strawn and 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 Healthcare 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]


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.


In 2013, the secretary received a salary of $130,490. This figure comes from the Council of State Governments.[8]


In 2010, the secretary of state received compensation in the amount of $130,490.[9]

Historical officeholders

List of Former

Officeholders from 1849-Present[10]

# Name Tenure Party
1 William Van Voohies 1849-1853 Electiondot.png Democratic
2 James W. Denver 1853-1855 Electiondot.png Democratic
3 Charles H. Hempstead 1855-1856 Electiondot.png Democratic
4 David F. Douglass 1856-1858 Yellowslashed.png American Independent Party
5 Ferris Forman 1858-1860 Electiondot.png Democratic
6 Johnson Price 1860-1862 Electiondot.png Democratic Leocompton
7 William H. Weeks 1862-1863 Ends.png Republican
8 A. A. H. Tuttle 1863-1863 Ends.png Republican
9 Benhamin B. Redding 1863-1867 Ends.png Republican Unionist
10 H. L. Nichols 1867-1871 Electiondot.png Democratic
11 Drury Melone 1871-1875 Ends.png Republican
12 Thomas Beck 1875-1880 Electiondot.png Democratic
13 Daniel M. Burns 1880-1883 Ends.png Republican
14 Thomas L. Thompson 1883-1887 Electiondot.png Democratic
15 William C. Hendricks 1887-1891 Electiondot.png Democratic
16 Edwin G. Waite 1891-1894 Ends.png Republican
17 Albert Hart 1894-1895 Ends.png Republican
18 Lewis H. Brown 1895-1899 Ends.png Republican
19 Charles F. Curry 1899-1911 Ends.png Republican
20 Frank C. Jordan 1911-1940 Ends.png Republican
21 Paul Peek 1940-1943 Electiondot.png Democratic
22 Frank M. Jordan 1943-1970 Ends.png Republican
23 H. P. Sullivan 1970-1971 Ends.png Republican
24 Edmund G. Brown Jr. 1971-1975 Electiondot.png Democratic
25 March Fong Eu 1975-1994 Electiondot.png Democratic
26 Tony Miller 1994-1995 Electiondot.png Democratic
27 Bill Jones 1995-2003 Ends.png Republican
28 Kevin Shelley 2003-2005 Electiondot.png Democratic
29 Cathy Mitchell 2005-2005 Electiondot.png Democratic
30 Bruce McPherson 2005-2007 Ends.png Republican
31 Debra Bowen 2007-Present Electiondot.png Democratic

Recent news

This section displays the most recent stories in a google news search for the term California + Secretary + of + State

All stories may not be relevant to this page due to the nature of the search engine.

California Secretary of State News Feed

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Contact Information

Capitol Address:

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

See also

External links