A qualified political party is entitled to participate in any primary election. (Elections Code § 338.) In order for a political party to be entitled to participate, it must be qualified by the 135th day before the June 3, 2014, primary election.
The political parties currently qualified to participate in the primary election are, in alphabetical order: the American Independent Party, the Americans Elect Party, the Democratic Party, the Green Party, the Libertarian Party, the Peace and Freedom Party, and the Republican Party.
Whenever a group of electors desires to qualify a new political party, the group shall form a political body by carrying out the following two requirements. (Elections Code § 5001.)
The group of electors must hold a caucus or convention at which temporary officers shall be elected and a party name designated. The designated name shall not be so similar to the name of an existing party so as to mislead the voters, and shall not conflict with that of any existing political party or other political body.
Following the convention, the group must file a formal notice with the Secretary of State. The notice must contain the following information:
Upon receipt of the above notice, the Secretary of State will notify county elections officials of the name of the political body and its intent to qualify as a political party. (Elections Code § 5002.)
A political body is entitled, upon request to the Secretary of State, to have counted toward its qualification as a political party, affidavits of registration in which voters disclosed a preference with the political body prior to the date the political body filed the above notice. This request must be made within the first 70 days after filing the notice. (Elections Code § 5003.)
A political body may use one of two methods to qualify as a political party: voter registration or petition. (Elections Code § 5100.)
To qualify a new political party by voter registration requires that 103,004 (1% of 10,300,392 votes cast at the last gubernatorial election) persons complete an affidavit of registration, on which they have disclosed a preference for the political body intending to qualify as a political party, by writing in the name of the political body. (Elections Code § 5100(b).)
These completed affidavits of registration must be submitted to the county elections officials 154 days prior to any primary election. (Elections Code § 2187(d)(1).) The completed affidavits of registration should be submitted to the elections official in the counties of the voters’ residences. They may be submitted to the Secretary of State’s office, although this will result in delays to the counties’ receipt of the affidavits.
No later than 135 days prior to any primary election, the Secretary of State must determine, from examining and totaling the reports of registration from the counties, that the political body obtained voter registrations equal in number to 1% of the total vote cast in the last gubernatorial election. (Elections Code § 5100(b).) 135 days prior to the June 3, 2014, primary election is January 19, 2014.
If a political body chooses to use the voter registration method, they can contact the Secretary of State Elections Division to obtain voter registration cards. Any request of 50 or more voter registration cards will require a representative from the political body to complete and submit a “Voter Registration Card Statement of Distribution” form to the Secretary of State. A “Voter Registration Card Statement of Distribution” form is available on the Secretary of State’s website at www.sos.ca.gov/elections/vrdis.pdf. The completed form must be mailed or faxed to:
Secretary of State
1500 11th Street, 5th Floor
Sacramento CA 95814
Fax: (916) 653-3214
Information on voter registration drives is available on the Secretary of State’s website at www.sos.ca.gov/elections/guides/guide-to-vr-drives.htm.
To qualify a new political party by petition, no later than 135 days prior to the primary election, the Secretary of State must determine if a political body intending to qualify collected 1,030,040 (10% of 10,300,392 votes cast at the last gubernatorial election) petition signatures of registered voters. (Elections Code § 5100(c).)
In order for the Secretary of State to make this determination on or before the 135th day prior to the primary election, the counties must have ample time to count and verify the signatures. 135 days prior to the June 3, 2014, primary election is January 19, 2014.
If a political body chooses the petition process, it is responsible to print and distribute petitions at its expense. The Secretary of State does not review the petition prior to its distribution. The political body may need to obtain the services of an attorney who is familiar with election law to ensure the accuracy of the petition.
The petition process to qualify a political party is similar to the initiative petition process. (Elections Code § 5100(c).) For example, the petitions must be filed with the appropriate county elections officials and may be submitted in sections; however, all the sections submitted in a single county must be filed at the same time. Information on the initiative process is available on the Secretary of State’s website at www.sos.ca.gov/ballot-measures/initiative-guide.htm.
The following suggested deadlines are for the "random sample" and the "full check" signature verification methods for the June 3, 2014, primary election.
The timelines reflected below are detailed more fully at www.sos.ca.gov/elections/statewide-elections/2014-primary/2014-primary-deadline.pdf.
A newly qualified political party must determine which existing political party’s statutory provisions it will follow for the operation of its activities. The temporary officers of the newly qualified political party shall file notice of its selection with the Secretary of State not later than 30 days after the political party qualifies. (Elections Code § 5005.)
The newly qualified political party must also determine which existing political party’s statutory provisions it will follow for the conduct of its presidential primary election. If a newly qualified political party has not elected permanent officers, the temporary officers shall notify the Secretary of State of its selection on or before the 125th day before the presidential primary election. (Elections Code § 5006.)
The existing qualified political parties with statutes relating to their activities and the conduct of their presidential primary elections are: the Democratic Party, the Republican Party, the American Independent Party, and the Peace and Freedom Party.
Once qualified, a political party maintains its qualified status by:
Retaining registrants representing at least 1/15 of 1% (.00067%) of the total state registration (Elections Code § 5101); and
Having one of its statewide candidates (running for Governor, Lieutenant Governor, Secretary of State, Controller, Treasurer, Attorney General, Insurance Commissioner, or United States Senator) receive at least 2% of the entire vote of the state for that office at the preceding gubernatorial election (Elections Code § 5100(a)); or
Retaining statewide registration equaling at least 1% of the total votes cast at the preceding gubernatorial election (Elections Code § 5100(b).)
If by the 135th day before any primary election, a political body has not qualified as a political party, the political body shall be considered to have abandoned its attempt to qualify as a political party and shall be ineligible to participate in the following primary. (Elections Code § 5004.)
These web pages are intended to provide general information about the formation of political bodies and the qualification of political parties and do not have the force and effect of law, regulation, or rule. It is distributed with the understanding that the Secretary of State is not rendering legal advice and these pages are not a substitute for legal counsel for any person or group using it.
In case of conflict, the law, regulation, or rule will apply. Interested persons should obtain the most up-to-date information available because of possible changes in law or procedure since the publication of these pages.