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The process to qualify as an officially recognized political party is governed by the California Elections Code Section 5000-5006.

  • The group wishing to qualify must hold a convention or caucus to elect officers and determine the party name.[1][2]
  • After the convention, the group must file with the Office of the California Secretary of State and qualify in one of two ways:[1][2]
    • Voter registration method
      • To qualify by voter registration, one percent of persons who participated in the last gubernatorial election must acknowledge a preference for the group by writing the chosen name of the group on an affidavit of registration. These affidavits must be submitted to county elections offices where the voters live 154 days before the primary election. The Secretary of State's Office will then determine if the group has qualified as a party no later than 135 days before the primary election.[1][2]
    • Petition method
      • To qualify by petition, signatures of registered voters equaling 10 percent of the votes cast in the last gubernatorial election must be collected and filed at the home county election offices of the voters 135 days prior to the primary election.[1][2]
  • Once a political party qualifies, it must retain 1/15 of one percent of the state's total registration of voters in order to maintain its status as an officially recognized political party. It must also have a statewide candidate earn at least two percent of the entire vote in an election or keep one percent of statewide registration in a gubernatorial race.[1][2] For an example of the number of votes and voter registrations this requires, look to the table below.
Registered voters as of February 2013 Number needed to designate party preference to initially maintain status Total registered voters in 2010 gubernatorial race Number needed to designate party preference to officially maintain status Votes case in 2010 gubernatorial race Number needed to vote for candidate to officially maintain status
18,055,783[3] Just over 12,000 23,551,699[4] 471,033 10,302,324[5] 103,023