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Prepared by the
Secretary of State and the Attorney General

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This brief digest of the election laws of the State of California, in so far as those laws affect the duties of election officers during the casting and canvassing of the vote, has been prepared by the Secretary of State and the Attorney General, pursuant to the provisions of section 1142a of the Political Code.

The compilers have endeavored to present the digest in such form as will readily indicate to the election officers the substance of such provisions of the Political Code and other election laws as they may find it most important to know in the performance of their duties. It contains wherever possible a reference to the code section or law by reference to which further examination may be made of the matter contained in any particular statement or provision. Its object is to furnish a guide to the election officers, and though it is in the main confined to the laws immediately affecting the powers and duties of such officers, it has been thought advisable to incorporate other matters incidentally related thereto to the end that this object might be more effectually attained.

It is to be understood that the digest relates only to the laws governing state, county and municipal elections and such other elections as are similarly conducted. No attempt has been made to state the law governing such elections as pertain only to school, district and other matters where the procedure differs entirely from the general procedure and as to which the particular provisions of special statutes control.


Secretary of State. U. S. WEBB,

Attorney General.




ELECTION OFFICERS. An election officer is a person who has been duly appointed Defined. to take charge of, and conduct, an election in a particular precinct, and who has qualified by taking the oath required by law. The persons so appointed and qualified constitute the board of election for that precinct. They are designated and Board of distinguished with reference to their duties by the official titles of “Inspector,” “Judge,” and “Clerk," the number of members on a board, as well as the number thereon occupying those respective positions, varying according to the character of the precinct in which they are to act, as hereinafter stated.

The inspector is the chief officer of the board. When no Chief inspector is present one of the judges should exercise the officer. powers and perform the duties of an inspector.

Formerly the board of election for an election precinct Each comprised only those persons officially designated as inspectors member. or as judges, and though provision was made for the appointment of ballot clerks, such clerks were not members of the board. But under the law as it now reads the election officers appointed at each election or primary election for each precinct constitute the board of election for that precinct, and each inspector, judge and clerk appointed as an election officer for a precinct is a member of the board for that precinct (Pol. Code, Sec. 1142).

Where a power is conferred upon, or a duty is assigned to, of powers. an officer of election without regard to his position on the board it may be exercised or performed by any member thereof. Where a power is conferred upon, or a duty is assigned to, the board as a body, the action of the board pursuant thereto must be with the consent of a majority of the board then acting.

By sections 1142 and 1151 of the Political Code the inspector, judges and clerks are authorized to distribute among themselves the extra duties devolving upon the board, in addition to their own duties, in such manner as they themselves shall deem most advantageous, and such extra duties assigned to the several officers by other sections of the Political Code shall be performed by the members of the board as said duties have been so distributed by them among themselves. However, under the law, special authority has been conferred upon, and particular duties assigned to, the respective members by their official designation, and when so conferred or assigned should, where possible, be exercised or performed by the officer occupying that position.

The members of a board of election are required to be When and appointed, at least twenty-five days prior to the election, by appointed. the board having charge or control of the election in the political subdivision in which such election is to be held (Pol.

Distribution of duties.

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