Emergency elections in California cities


California law provides procedures for “emergency elections” conducted in cities in that state. These rules and procedures are contained in Division 10, Part 2, Chapter 3, which was enacted in 1994. Section 10300 states that the the electors of a town may petition the governor for the appointment of three election commissioners if the town has not elected its officers in accordance with its charter, and if there are no officers to ensure the city ​​government, or if the city has attempted to adopt a Landowners’ Charter under the State Constitution, and has not legally elected the officers, and the Landowners’ Charter is found to be invalid.

Section 10301 requires that the petition to the Governor contain the following information:

  • The name of the city, with the date and the mode of organization.
  • The date of the last election of officers; whether they exercise their functions and, if not, how long ago they ceased to do so.
  • The provision of the charter relating to voter qualifications.
  • That each person signing the petition has the qualifications provided for voters by the charter.
  • That each of the signatories of the petition is a head of the family and a free owner of the city.

Section 10302 requires that the petition be signed by at least 75 people in the city, each with all of the qualifications listed in the body of the petition. Section 10303 provides that upon presentation of the petition to the Governor, the Governor shall either act upon it or require further evidence of the matters set forth in the petition.

Section 10304 requires the Governor to issue a commission to commissioners, and the issuance of the commission must be conclusive evidence of the due process of all proceedings up to and including the appointment of the commissioners. Within 10 days of their appointment, commissioners are required to take the constitutional oath of office before a qualified sworn officer. The commission must be organized by the election of a president and a secretary among its own members. The committee must keep minutes of all its deliberations.

Section 10305 authorizes commissioners to call an election for officers required by the city charter to be elected solely by the voters of the city. The decree must specify the names of the positions to be filled and the date of the election.

Section 10306 requires the commission to appoint precinct councils and establish locations for the election prior to the election, as required by the city charter. The election shall be conducted in accordance with the city charter for the election of officers. If a voter is challenged on the grounds that his name does not appear on the county register, he need only state under oath that he believes his name is on the register and, if no other evidence is presented , the ward council is bound to accept this statement as true.

Section 10307 requires ward councils to report the election as required by the charter of all officers voted in the election, without reference to whether they were voted in as a whole or only in a neighborhood or subdivision of the city.

Section 10308 requires commissioners within five days of the election to request the results and report who was elected. The commission must then issue election certificates to those declared elected.

Section 10309 requires, within 10 days of the issuance of election certificates, officers to qualify and enter into the exercise of their duties in accordance with the charter. If a person chosen at the election fails to take the oath of office and enter into discharge within the time above specified, the office shall be deemed vacant.

Section 10310 requires, at the first meeting of the city board of directors after the election, that commissioners deliver to the board of directors all books and documents in their possession relating to their office as election commissioners.

Section 10311 provides that whenever officers elected in the election, and officers authorized by charter to be elected or appointed by the governing body or executive department of the city, have qualified and entered in the exercise of their functions, the city is deemed to be fully organized and functioning as if the election had taken place at the time and in the manner required by the charter.

Section 10312 requires, whenever city government is in full operation, the governing body to record a resolution in its minutes declaring that fact. The resolution is conclusive evidence of this fact, except against a direct action or proceeding to nullify or nullify the government.


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