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Elections in California

Elections in California are held to fill various local, state and federal seats. In California, regular elections are held every even year (such as 2006 and 2008); however, some seats have terms of office that are longer than two years, so not every seat is on the ballot in every election. Special elections may be held to fill vacancies at other points in time. Recall elections can also be held. Additionally, statewide initiatives, legislative referrals and referenda may be on the ballot.


  • Elected offices 1
    • Federal 1.1
      • President 1.1.1
      • Senate 1.1.2
      • House of Representatives 1.1.3
    • State 1.2
    • Local 1.3
  • Procedure 2
  • Political parties 3
  • Ballot propositions 4
  • Future elections 5
  • Past elections 6
  • See also 7
  • References 8
  • Bibliography 9
  • External links 10

Elected offices



Every four years (since 1792), the United States holds an indirect election for President and Vice President. In such elections, voters cast their votes for a slate of representatives (electors) who have pledged to cast their votes for a particular presidential and vice presidential candidate (a ticket) in the Electoral College. During the election, the voters of the state select the slate of electors on the ballot by voting for the ticket that they are pledged to. The slate of electors pledged to the ticket with the most votes statewide gets to vote in the Electoral College. Although, the electors are not obligated to vote for the candidates they are pledged to, they usually do. The number of electors the state is allocated is equal to the number representatives in Congress that the state has (the members in the House of Representatives, plus the two senators).


House of Representatives


California has a gubernatorial election every four years and, in 2003, it had a recall election. Primary elections were held in March or June until 2008, when they were held in February. General elections, which cover state-wide issues, are held in November. On a county-by-county basis, elections also cover municipal issues. In addition, a special election can occur at any time.


In addition, many if not most of California's county, city, school district, community college district, health care district, municipal utility district, transit district and other special district officers are elected.


Pursuant to Proposition 14 (2010), California uses a nonpartisan blanket primary for "voter-nominated" offices, which include:[1]

  • United States Senators,
  • United States Representatives,
  • State Senators,
  • State Assembly members,
  • the Governor,
  • the Lieutenant Governor,
  • the State Treasurer,
  • the State Controller,
  • the State Insurance Commissioner,
  • the State Superintendent of Public Instruction (nonpartisan),
  • the Secretary of State,
  • and the State Attorney General.

In this system voters may vote for any candidate in the primary and the top two candidates who receive the most votes advance to the general election. Elections for President, Vice President, political party state central committees, and county central committees are "party-nominated".[1]

Candidates may qualify in one of two ways: by payment of a fee, or by the collection of registered voters' signatures on an in-lieu-of-filing-fee petition.[2] Candidates must also file a "candidate intention statement" with the Secretary of State, as well as nomination forms with their home county.[2]

Political parties

There are six qualified political parties:[3]

Only the Democratic Party and Republican Party currently have representation in the State Legislature. However, Audie Bock, a member of the Green Party, was elected in 1999 during what is known as special election musical chairs.

Local elections in California at the county and city level are officially non-partisan and political party affiliations are not included on local election ballots.

Ballot propositions

A ballot proposition is a proposed law that is submitted to the electorate for approval in a direct vote (or plebiscite). It may take the form of a constitutional amendment or an ordinary statute. A ballot proposition may be proposed by the State Legislature or by a petition signed by members of the public under the initiative system. In California a vote on a measure referred to voters by the legislature is a mandatory referendum; a vote to veto a law that has already been adopted by the legislature is an optional referendum or "people's veto"; the process of proposing laws by petition is the initiative.

Future elections

Past elections

See lists on the side for past election results.

See also


  1. ^ a b "Voting in the Primary Election". League of Women Voters California. 
  2. ^ a b "Ballot access requirements for political candidates in California: Process to become a candidate".  
  3. ^ California Secretary of State - Elections & Voter Information - Qualified Political Parties


  • California Secretary of State - On-Line Lists of Candidates
  • JoinCalifornia - California Election Statistics

External links

  • California Elections and Voter Information from the California Secretary of State official website
    • Official Voter Information Guide
  • California at Ballotpedia
  • California Election Statistics One Voter Project
  • Elections Information California Voter Foundation
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