SECRETARY OF STATE
Ballot Designation Regulations

 

The following are regulations proposed by the Secretary of State and approved by the Office of Administrative Law that went into effect in January 1998. The regulations apply only to state and federal candidates. In order to be consistent with the state regulations, however, the Santa Cruz County Elections Department will apply these same regulations to candidates running for county, special district and school district offices.

Chapter 7. Ballot Designations

20710. General Provisions.

(a) The regulatory purpose of this Chapter is to ensure the accurate designation of the candidate upon the ballot in order that an informed electorate may intelligently elect one of the candidates.

(b) The Secretary of State shall, at all times, apply and interpret the provisions of Elections Code 13107 and the regulations included in this Chapter in a manner consistent with the regulatory purpose of this Chapter.

(c) Candidates are not required to use a ballot designation pursuant to Elections Code 13107, subdivision (a), and may opt to leave the space for such a designation on the ballot blank. In order to notify the elections official as to whether he or she will use a ballot designation or will opt to leave the ballot designation space blank, the candidate must initial the appropriate box on the Declaration of Candidacy or otherwise so indicate on the Declaration of Candidacy.

(d) Pursuant to Elections Code 13107, subdivision (a), a candidate may submit a proposed ballot designation pursuant to any one of the four provisions specified in Elections Code 13107, subdivision (a), subparts (1) through (4), applicable to that candidate. The candidate shall be free to select from which of the applicable four subparts he or she is submitting his or her proposed ballot designation.

(e) The regulations set forth in this Chapter shall apply only to elections held for offices for which elections returns are certified by the Secretary of State of the State of California.

(f) Whenever, the word "should" is used in this Chapter, it is recommended, not mandatory.

Note: Authority: Section 12172.5, Government Code

Reference: Section 13107, Elections Code

20711. Ballot Designation Worksheet.

(a) In order to facilitate review of a candidate’s proposed ballot designation by the Secretary of State pursuant to Elections Code 13107, the candidate may submit, at the time of filing his or her proposed ballot designation on the Declaration of Candidacy, a completed Ballot Designation Worksheet on a form provided by the Secretary of State.

(b) All Ballot Designation Worksheets filed with the Office of the Secretary of State or the county elections officials pursuant to this section shall be public records and shall be available for inspection and copying at the public counter of the Elections Division of the Office of the Secretary of State, Fifth Floor, 1500 11th Street, Sacramento, California 95814, or at the office of the applicable county elections official.

(c) The Secretary of State shall provide a master copy or copies of the Ballot Designation Worksheet to all elections officials responsible for providing and accepting the nomination documents for candidates in elections for offices certified by the Secretary of State. The Ballot Designation Worksheet shall request that the candidate proposing the ballot designation provide the following information:

(1) The candidate’s name, home, business and mailing addresses, telephone numbers, e-mail address, if available, and fax number;

(2) A designation of the office for which the candidate is seeking election;

(3) The name, home, business and mailing addresses, telephone numbers, e-mail address, if available, and fax number of the attorney representing the candidate or for any other person to be contacted in the event the Secretary of State requires further information regarding the proposed ballot designation;

(4) The proposed ballot designation submitted by the candidate;

(5) At the option of the candidate, the candidate may submit one or more proposed alternate ballot designations ranked in order of the candidate’s preference;

(6) A brief statement identifying the factual basis upon which the candidate claims the proposed ballot designation and each proposed alternate ballot designation, including the following:

(A) If the candidate holds elected office and is submitting his or her proposed ballot designation pursuant to Elections Code 13107, subdivisions (a)(1) or (a)(2), the candidate should indicate the elective office he or she currently occupies and may attach a copy of his or her Certificate of Election;

(B) If the candidate is a judicial officer and is submitting his or her proposed ballot designation pursuant to Elections Code 13107, subdivisions (a)(1) or (a)(2), the candidate should indicate the elective office he or she currently holds and may attach either (A) a copy of his or her Certificate of Election or (B) a copy of his or her commission or certificate of appointment, issued at the time the candidate was appointed to the judicial office which he or she currently occupies;

(C) If the candidate submits a ballot designation pursuant to Elections Code 13107, subdivision (a)(3), the candidate should indicate:

(i) The title of the position or positions which he or she claims supports the proposed ballot designation;

(ii) The dates during which the candidate held such position;

(iii) A description of the work he or she performs in the position;

(iv) The name of the candidate’s business or employer;

(v) The name and telephone number of a person or persons who could verify such information; and

(vi) A statement that the professions, vocations or occupations relied upon to support the proposed ballot designation constitute the primary, main or leading professions, vocations or occupations of the candidate, in accordance with the definition of the term "principal" as set forth at 20714, subdivision (b).

(D) If the candidate submits a ballot designation pursuant to Elections Code 13107, subdivision (a)(4), the candidate should indicate the date on which he or she was appointed to the office for which he or she is an appointed incumbent.

(d) The candidate may attach or append any supporting documents or other exhibits to his or her Ballot Designation Worksheet which he or she believes support his or her proposed ballot designation. Such attached documents or other exhibits shall be deemed to be incorporated by reference as part of the candidate’s Ballot Designation Worksheet and shall be considered as such by the Secretary of State.

Note: Authority: Section 12172.5, Government Code

Reference: Section 13107, Elections Code

20712. Proposed Ballot Designations – Elected Officials

Proposed ballot designations submitted pursuant to Elections Code 13107, subdivision (a)(1), shall be subject to the following provisions:

(a) In the case of candidates holding elective city, county, district, state, or federal office, the candidate’s ballot designation shall be the elective office which the candidate holds at the time of filing the nomination documents.

(b) In the case of judicial officers, the candidate’s ballot designation shall be the elective office which the candidate holds at the time of filing the nomination documents.

(c) There shall be no word count limitation applicable to ballot designations submitted pursuant to Elections Code 13107, subdivision (a)(1).

(d) Proposed ballot designations indicating a position of legislative leadership, such as "Majority Leader of the California Senate," "Minority Leader of the California State Assembly," "Speaker of the California State Assembly," "President Pro Tempore of the California State Senate," and the like, are not elective offices described in Elections Code 13107, subdivision (a)(1). Such ballot designations are improper, pursuant to Elections Code 13107, subdivision (a)(1). They may, however, be considered under the provisions of 13107(a)(3).

(e) Proposed ballot designations indicating that the candidate is a member of the state or county central committee of a political party, or an officer of a state or county central committee of a political party, are improper, as such positions do not constitute elective county or state offices as specified in Elections Code 13107, subdivision (a)(1).

Note: Authority: Section 12172.5, Government Code

Reference: Section 13107, Elections Code

20713. Proposed Ballot Designations – Incumbents

Proposed ballot designations submitted pursuant to Elections Code 13107, subdivision (a)(2), shall be subject to the following provisions:

(a) A proposed ballot designation submitted pursuant to Elections Code 13107, subdivision (a)(2), is limited "incumbent," as that term is defined in Elections Code 13107, subdivision (a)(2).

(b) The term "incumbent" must be used as a noun. It shall not be used in conjunction with any other words, including any accompanying adjectives or modifiers, and must stand alone. A candidate qualified to use this designation pursuant to Elections Code 13107, subdivision (a)(2), shall be entitled to use the ballot designation "Incumbent."

(c) The word "incumbent" is strictly limited for use in ballot designations submitted pursuant to Elections Code 13107, subdivision (a)(2), and may not be used as an adjective in any other ballot designation.

Note: Authority: Section 12172.5, Government Code

Reference: Section 13107, Elections Code

20714. Proposed Ballot Designations – Profession/Vocation/Occupation

Proposed ballot designations submitted pursuant to Elections Code 13107, subdivision (a)(3), shall be subject to the following provisions:

(a) The terms "profession," "vocation," or "occupation," as those terms are used in Elections Code 13107, subdivision (a)(3), are defined as follows:

(1) "Profession" means a field of employment requiring special education or skill and requiring specific knowledge of a particular discipline of learning or science. The labor and skill involved in a profession is predominantly mental or intellectual, rather than physical or manual. Recognized professions generally include, but are not limited to, law, medicine, education, engineering, accountancy, and journalism. Examples of an acceptable designation of a "profession," as defined in Elections Code 13107, subdivision (a)(3), include, but are not limited to, "attorney," "physician," "accountant," "architect," and "teacher."

(2) "Vocation" means a trade, a religious calling, or the work upon which a person, in most but not all cases, relies for his or her livelihood and spends a major portion of his or her time. As defined, vocations may include, but are not limited to, religious ministry, child rearing, homemaking, elderly and dependent care, and engaging in trades such as carpentry, cabinetmaking, plumbing, and the like. Examples of an acceptable designation of a "vocation," as defined in Elections Code 13107, subdivision (a)(3), include, but are not limited to, "minister," "priest," "mother," "father," "homemaker," "dependent care provider," "carpenter," "plumber," "electrician," and "cabinetmaker."

(3) "Occupation" means the employment in which one regularly engages or follows as the means of making a livelihood. Examples of an acceptable designation of an "occupation," as defined in Elections Code 13107, subdivision (a)(3), include, but are not limited to, "rancher," "restaurateur," "retail salesperson," "manual laborer," "construction worker," "computer manufacturing executive," "military pilot," "secretary," and "police officer."

(b) "Principal," as that term is used in Elections Code 13107, subdivision (a)(3), means a substantial involvement of time and effort such that the activity is one of the primary, main or leading professional, vocational or occupational endeavors of the candidate. The term "principal" precludes any activity which does not entail a significant involvement on the part of the candidate. Involvement which is only nominal, pro forma, or titular in character does not meet the requirements of the statute.

(1) If a candidate is licensed by the State of California to engage in a profession, vocation or occupation, the candidate is entitled to consider it one of his or her "principal" professions, vocations or occupations if (i) the candidate has maintained his or her license current as of the date he or she filed his or her nomination documents by complying with all applicable requirements of the respective licensure, including the payment of all applicable license fees and (ii) the status of the candidate’s license is active at the time he or she filed his or her nomination documents.

(2) A candidate who holds a professional, vocational or occupational license issued by the State of California may not claim such profession, vocation or occupation as one of his or her "principal" professions, vocations or occupations if (i) the candidate’s licensure status is "inactive" at the time the candidate files his or her nomination document, or (ii) the candidate’s license has been suspended or revoked by the agency issuing the license at the time the candidate files his or her nomination documents.

(c) In order for a ballot designation submitted pursuant to Elections Code 13107, subdivision (a)(3), to be deemed acceptable by the Secretary of State, it must accurately state the candidate’s principal professions, vocations or occupations, as those terms are defined in subdivisions (a) and (b) herein. Each proposed principal profession, vocation or occupation submitted by the candidate must be factually accurate, descriptive of the candidate’s principal profession, vocation or occupation, must be neither confusing nor misleading, and must be in full and complete compliance with Elections Code 13107 and the regulations included in this Chapter.

(d) If the candidate is engaged in a profession, vocation or occupation at the time he or she files his or her nomination documents, the candidate’s proposed ballot designation is entitled to consist of the candidate’s current principal professions, vocations and occupations. In the event the candidate does not have a current principal profession, vocation or occupation at the time he or she files his or her nomination documents, the candidate may use a ballot designation consisting of his or her principal professions, vocations or occupations, which the candidate was principally engaged in during the calendar year immediately preceding the filing of the candidate’s nomination papers.

(e) A candidate may engage in multiple principal professions, vocations or occupations. Accordingly, the candidate may designate multiple principal professions, vocations or occupations. If a candidate proposes a ballot designation including multiple principal professions, vocations or occupations, the proposed ballot designation must comply with the following provisions:

(1) The proposed ballot designation must comply with the three-word limitation specified in Elections Code 13107, subdivision (a)(3), and as implemented pursuant to subdivision (f) herein.

(2) Each such proposed profession, vocation or occupation shall be separately considered by the Secretary of State and must independently qualify as a "principal" profession, vocation or occupation, as that term is defined pursuant to subdivision (b) herein.

(3) When multiple professions, vocations or occupations are proposed as a ballot designation, they shall be separated by a slash ("/"). An example of an acceptable designation would be "Legislator/Rancher/Physician."

(f) Pursuant to Elections Code 13107, subdivision (a)(3), the candidate’s ballot designation shall be limited to not more than three (3) words. The following rules shall govern the application of the three word limitation:

(1) The proposed ballot designation shall be grammatically correct, generic, and all words must be spelled correctly.

(2) Punctuation shall be limited to the use of a comma (e.g., District Attorney, Los Angeles County) and a slash (e.g., Legislator/Rancher/Physician), pursuant to subdivision (e) of this section. A hyphen may be used if, and only if, the use of a hyphen is called for in the spelling of a word as it appears in a standard reference dictionary of the English language.

(3) All California geographical names shall be considered to be one word and shall be limited to the names of cities, counties and states. The names of special districts and political subdivisions are not Ageographical names," as the term is used in Elections Code 13107, subdivision (a)(3). If the candidate desires, the geographical name may be used in the form of "City of . . . ," "County of . . . ," or "City and County of . .." Examples of geographical names considered to be one word include Tehama County, Los Angeles County and County of Sacramento.(4) An acronym shall be counted as one word.

Note: Authority: Section 12172.5, Government Code

Reference: Section 13107, Elections Code

20715. Proposed Ballot Designations – Using the Word "Appointed"

  1. Pursuant to Elections Code 13107, subdivision (a)(4), a candidate may propose a ballot designation consisting of the phrase "appointed incumbent" if the candidate holds an office, other than a judicial office, by virtue of appointment, and the candidate is a candidate for election to the same office. The candidate may not use the unmodified word "incumbent" or any words designating the office unmodified by the word "appointed."

(b) Pursuant to Elections Code 13107, subdivision (a)(4), a candidate may propose a ballot designation consisting of the word "appointed" in conjunction with the elective office, if the candidate is a candidate for election to the same office or to some other office. The candidate may not use any words designating the office unmodified by the word "appointed."

(c) There shall be no word count limitation applicable to ballot designations submitted pursuant to Elections Code 13107, subdivision (a)(4).

Note: Authority: Section 12172.5, Government Code

Reference: Section 13107, Elections Code

20716. Unacceptable Ballot Designations.

(a) The Secretary of State shall reject as unacceptable any proposed ballot designation which fails to comply with, or is otherwise inappropriate pursuant to, Elections Code 13107, subdivision (a); is prohibited pursuant to Elections Code 13107, subdivision (b); is misleading; or is otherwise improper pursuant to the regulations set forth in this Chapter.

(b) The following types of activities are distinguished from professions, vocations and occupations and are not acceptable as ballot designations pursuant to Elections Code 13107, subdivision (a)(3):

(1) Avocations: An avocation is a casual or occasional activity, diversion or hobby pursued principally for enjoyment and in addition to the candidate’s principal profession, vocation or occupation. Avocations may include, but are not limited to, hobbies, social activities, volunteer work, and matters pursued as an amateur.

(2) Pro Forma Professions, Vocations and Occupations: Pro forma professions, vocations or occupations are positions held by the candidate which consume little or none of the candidate's time and which, by their nature, are voluntary or for which the candidate is not compensated. Pro forma professions, vocations and occupations may include, but are not limited to, such pursuits as honorary peace officer, volunteer firefighter, honorary chairperson, honorary professor, goodwill ambassador, official host or hostess and the like.

(3) Statuses: A status is a state, condition, social position or legal relation of the candidate to another person, persons or the community as a whole. A status is generic in nature and generally fails to identify with any particular specificity the manner by which the candidate earns his or her livelihood or spends the substantial majority of his or her time. Examples of a status include, but are not limited to, philanthropist, activist, patriot, taxpayer, concerned citizen, husband, wife, and the like.

(c) Pursuant to Elections Code 13107, subdivision (b)(1), the Secretary of State shall reject as unacceptable any proposed ballot designation which would mislead voters. In making this determination, the Secretary of State shall determine whether there is a substantial likelihood that a reasonably prudent voter would be misled as to the candidate’s principal profession, vocation or occupation by the candidate’s proposed ballot designation. The determination shall take into account the plain meaning of the words constituting the proposed ballot designation and the factual accuracy of the proposed ballot designation based upon supporting documents or other evidence submitted by the candidate in support of the proposed ballot designation, pursuant to 20711 and 20717 of this Chapter.

(d) A ballot designation may not comprise or include commercial identification information, such as a trademark, service mark, trade name, or the specific name of a business, partnership, corporation, company, foundation, or organization. Examples of an improper use of commercial identification information include, but are not limited to, "Acme Company President," "Universal Widget Inventor," "Director, Smith Foundation," "UCLA Professor," and the like.

(e) Pursuant to Elections Code 13107, subdivision (b)(2), the Secretary of State shall reject as unacceptable any proposed ballot designation which would suggest an evaluation of the candidate’s qualifications, honesty, integrity, leadership abilities or character. Any laudatory or derogatory adjectives which would suggest an evaluation of the candidate’s qualifications shall not be permitted. Such impermissible adjectives include, but are not limited to, "outstanding," "leading," "expert," "virtuous," "eminent," "best," "exalted," "prominent," "famous," "respected," "honored," "honest," "dishonest," "corrupt," "lazy," and the like.

(f) Pursuant to Elections Code 13107, subdivision (b)(3), the Secretary of State shall reject as unacceptable any proposed ballot designation which abbreviates the word "retired" or places it following any word or words which it modifies. Examples of impermissible designations include "Ret. Army General", "Major USAF", and "City Attorney, Retired".

(g) Pursuant to Elections Code 13107, subdivision (b)(4), the Secretary of State shall reject as unacceptable any proposed ballot designation which uses a word or prefix to indicate a prior profession, vocation, occupation or elected, appointed or judicial office previously held by the candidate. Such impermissible words or prefixes include, but are not limited to, "Ex-", "former", "past", and "erstwhile".  Examples of impermissible designations include "Former Congressman", "Ex-Senator", and "Former Educator".

(h) Subject to the provisions of Elections Code 13107, subdivision (b)(4), use of the word "retired" in a ballot designation is generally limited for use by individuals who have permanently given up their chosen principal profession, vocation or occupation. In evaluating a proposed ballot designation including the word "retired", the Secretary of State will consider the following factors in making a determination as to the propriety of the use of the term retired:

(1) Prior to retiring from his or her principal profession, vocation or occupation, the candidate worked in such profession, vocation or occupation for more than 5 years;

(2) The candidate is collecting, or eligible to collect, retirement benefits or other type of vested pension;

(3) The candidate has reached at least the age of 55 years;

(4) The candidate voluntarily left his or her last professional, vocational or occupational position;

(5) If the candidate is requesting a ballot designation indicating that he or she is a retired public official, the candidate must have previously voluntarily retired from public office, not have been involuntarily removed from office, not have been recalled by voters, and not have surrendered the office to seek another office or failed to win reelection to the office;

(6) The candidate has not had another more recent, intervening principal profession, vocation or occupation; and,

(7) The candidate's retirement benefits are providing him or her with a principal source of income.

(i) Pursuant to Elections Code 13107, subdivision (b)(5), the Secretary of State shall reject as unacceptable any proposed ballot designation which uses the name of any political party, whether or not it has qualified for recognized ballot status.

(j) Pursuant to Elections Code 13107, subdivision (b)(6), the Secretary of State shall reject as unacceptable any proposed ballot designation which uses a word or words referring to a racial, religious, or ethnic group.

(1) The Secretary of State shall reject as unacceptable any ballot designation which expressly contains or implies any ethnic or racial slurs or ethnically or racially derogatory language.

(2) If the candidate is a member of the clergy, the candidate may not make reference to his or her specific denomination. However, the candidate may use his or her clerical title as a ballot designation (e.g., "Rabbi", "Pastor", "Minister", "Priest", "Bishop", "Deacon", "Monk", "Nun", "Imam", etc.) (k) Pursuant to Elections Code 13107, subdivision (b)(6), the Secretary of State shall reject as unacceptable any proposed ballot designation which refers to any activity prohibited by law. Unlawful activity includes any activities, conduct, professions, vocations, or occupations prohibited by state or federal law.

Note: Authority: Section 12172.5, Government Code

Reference: Section 13107, Elections Code

20717. Requests for Supporting Documentation.

In addition to the Ballot Designation Worksheet requested to be filed with the Secretary of State pursuant to 20711 of this Chapter, the Secretary of State may request that a candidate submit additional supporting documentation or other evidence to support the proposed ballot designation.

(a) Time is of the essence regarding all matters pertaining to the review of proposed ballot designations submitted by candidates for public office. Failure to promptly submit requested supporting materials will preclude consideration of such materials and the rendering of a summary, final decision on the candidate's proposed ballot designation.

(b) The Secretary of State will communicate, whenever possible, with the candidate in the most expeditious manner, including, but not limited to, telephone, facsimile transmission and electronic mail at the number or address provided by the candidate. When the candidate does not have reasonable access to a facsimile machine or electronic mail, the Secretary of State will transmit written communication to the candidate by means of overnight express delivery to the address provided by the candidate.

(c) The candidate shall have the burden of establishing that the proposed ballot designation that he or she has submitted is accurate and complies with all provisions of Elections Code 13107 and this Chapter.

Note: Authority: Section 12172.5, Government Code

Reference: Section 13107, Elections Code

20718. Communication of Decisions Regarding Ballot Designations.

(a) An official copy of the decision of the Secretary of State regarding a candidate's ballot designation will be made in writing and transmitted directly to the candidate by registered or certified mail, return receipt requested, to the address provided by the candidate. The Secretary of State shall also provide a copy to the elections official in the candidate's county of residence and to the elections official of each county within the political subdivision. Copies may also be made available to all other candidates in the race.

(b) At the request of the candidate, the Secretary of State will transmit an unofficial copy of the decision of the Secretary of State regarding the candidate's proposed ballot designation by facsimile transmission sent to the facsimile number listed on the candidate's Ballot Designation Worksheet. When the candidate does not have reasonable access to a facsimile machine, the Secretary of State will transmit to the candidate, at the candidate's request, an unofficial copy of the decision by means of overnight express delivery to the address listed on the candidate's Ballot Designation Worksheet provided. If the candidate has not submitted a Ballot Designation Worksheet, the Secretary of State will transmit an official copy to the facsimile number provided by the candidate or, if the candidate does not have reasonable access to a facsimile machine, by overnight express mail to the address provided by the candidate.

(c) All written decisions of the Secretary of State regarding ballot designations are public records and are available for inspection and copying at the public counter of the Elections Division of the Office of the Secretary of State, 1500 11th Street, Fifth Floor, Sacramento, California 95814.

Note: Authority: Section 12172.5, Government Code

Reference: Section 13107, Elections Code

20719. Service of Legal Process Regarding Ballot Designations.

(a) In the event a candidate or other interested party files a petition for the issuance of an extraordinary writ with the court or other legal action pertaining to a candidate's ballot designation, the summons and any other legal process should be served upon the Chief Counsel to the Secretary of State, Legal Affairs Unit, Executive Office of the Secretary, 1500 11th Street, Sixth Floor, Sacramento, California 95814. The Chief Counsel may designate a Deputy Secretary of State in the Legal Affairs Unit to accept service of process on behalf of the Secretary of State.

(b) Telephone notice pertaining to any ex parte applications filed with the court by any candidate or other interested party should be directed to the attention of the Chief Counsel to the Secretary of State at (916) 653-7244. Counsel for all parties to such ex parte matters are admonished that waivers of the Secretary of State's right to timely notice and the right to personally appear at the ex parte hearing will be granted in writing and only in limited instances.

(c) The Secretary of State shall provide a copy of any legal actions in subdivision (a) or (b) above to the elections official in the county of the candidate's residence and any other county in the district.

Note: Authority: Section 12172.5, Government Code

Reference: Section 13107, Elections Code

[ Election's Home Page ] [ E-Mail ] [ Top of this Page ] [ Call Us ] [ Table of Contents ]  [ Next Page ]