Section 9: State-based Administrative Complaint Procedures -
California's Plan for Voting in the 21st Century



Section 254(a)(9), page 74
A description of the uniform, nondiscriminatory state-based administrative complaint procedures in effect under Section 402.

Section 402 (pages 126-128) requires the state to establish and maintain a state-based administrative complaint procedure that:

Under existing procedures, any person may complain to the Secretary of State, as Chief Elections Officer, that elections laws or procedures have been violated, are being violated or are about to occur. A toll-free telephone number for this purpose is provided and is widely disseminated. Complaints may also be submitted to the Secretary of State in writing. All credible allegations are investigated by one or more units of the Office of the Secretary of State, often in conjunction with local elections officials and other state officials.

The Secretary of State, after consulting with local elections officials and interested individuals and organizations, has established a uniform, nondiscriminatory state-based administrative complaint procedure in compliance with Section 402 of HAVA. The procedure provides individuals with a meaningful, expedited means of voicing a complaint concerning the implementation of Title III of HAVA and an appropriate remedy if a violation has occurred. The procedure addresses the accessibility needs of minority language voters and individuals with disabilities.

The complaint procedure in effect authorizes any individual residing in the State of California to file a written complaint with the Secretary of State alleging that Title III has been violated, is being violated or is about to be violated. Pursuant to HAVA, the complaint must be notarized. (The Complainant must sign the complaint after being sworn by a notary public.) The complaint may be filed on a form prescribed and made available by the Secretary of State or on any other form that meets the specified requirements. Forms prescribed by the Secretary of State are required to be translated into appropriate languages. The Secretary of State will seek the assistance of an advisory committee to make the complaint procedure accessible to individuals with disabilities. The complaint may be filed in person at any office of the Secretary of State or mailed to Secretary of State, Elections Division, HAVA Complaint, 1500 11th Street, Sacramento, CA 95814. The complaint must be filed within 60 days after the occurrence of the alleged violation or within 90 days after the Complainant becomes aware of the alleged violation, whichever is later. The Secretary of State may consolidate complaints when appropriate. The Complainant may request a hearing on the record. The Secretary of State determines whether the hearing is oral or is based on written testimony. A final determination must be made within 90 days of filing the complaint. An appropriate remedy must be provided if a violation is found. In any case, the determination shall be in writing and must be posted on the Secretary of State's website, unless such posting might compromise a criminal investigation or other enforcement action. If a determination is not made within 90 days, then the complaint is referred to a neutral Hearing Officer who must make a determination within 60 days of the initial 90-day deadline. The determination must be posted on the Secretary of State's website, unless such posting might compromise a criminal investigation or other enforcement action.


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