Registrar of Voters office

Recalls, Initiatives and Referendums

This page provides general guidance on recalls, initiatives and referendums.

Disclaimer

The staff of the Sonoma County Registrar of Voters (ROV) Office are forbidden by California legal codes from practicing law or providing legal advice. This prohibition includes giving advice or direction about recall/initiative wording or legal sufficiency. Due to public interest, ROV is providing the information below about recalls, initiatives, and referendums.  Members of the public are responsible for determining the legal requirements relating to these procedures.  All parties involved in a recall, initiative, or referendum petition are advised to seek legal counsel. It is incumbent upon proponents to follow the processes required by California law, including but not limited to the California Elections Code.

ROV is the elections official for counties and special/school districts. Each city/town clerk is the elections official for their respective cities and should be contacted regarding city/town recalls, initiatives, and referendums.

Recalls

Recall is the power of the voters to remove elected officials before their terms expire. It has been a fundamental part of our governmental system since 1911 and has been used by voters to express their dissatisfaction with their elected representatives.

Recall Elections – Elections Code 11000 – 11386

Procedure for Recalling State and Local Officials, CA Secretary of State

Referendums

Timelines

Timelines for recalls, initiatives, and referendums are established by law and depend on a number of factors, including but not limited to the type of petition, petition approval process, number of registered voters, time to gather signatures, time to check signatures and administrative work. The ROV Office cannot predict dates of future elections or when the recall/initiative/referendum would be on the ballot. These timelines are provided as estimates only, and should not be considered legally binding. The deadlines referenced in the charts below are based upon completion of the previous step listed, unless otherwise noted. It is suggested that you review the relevant California Elections Code sections to determine specific code deadlines and how they apply to your situation.

State Recalls

Please refer to the Procedure for Recalling State and Local Officials

Local (County, Municipal [City], and District) Recalls

The ROV is the elections official for county and district recalls. The Clerk of the City/Town, not the ROV, is the elections official for municipal recalls. Please direct any questions about municipal recalls to the appropriate City/Town Clerk. Below is a list of steps in the recall process. California law prescribes certain deadlines for the recall process. Please refer to the appropriate code sections or consult a lawyer for advice about the deadlines.

DeadlineStepElections Code
Proponents serve copy of Notice of Intention (NOI) on elected official being recalled by personal delivery or certified mail.11021
Within 7 days of serviceProponents file original notice of intention with elections official along with affidavit of time and manner of service.11020, 11021
*Proponents publish notice of intention in newspaper of general circulation and obtain proof of publication.11022
Within 7 days of proponents filing original NOI with elections officialRecalled officer serves copy of answer to notice of intention on proponents by personal delivery or certified mail and files original answer with elections official.11023
Within 10 days of response or expiration response periodProponents file two blank copies of draft petition with elections official along with proof of publication of notice of intention.11042
Within 10 days of filingElections official notifies proponents whether petition is found to meet requirements.
  • If yes, petition is approved and signature circulation can begin.
  • If no, elections official informs proponents what alterations are necessary. Go back to previous step. (Repeat previous/current steps until petition requirements are met.)
11042
40 – 160 days, based on number of registered voters, from petition approvalLength of signature collection period is based on number of registered voters in electoral jurisdiction as of last report of registration sent to Secretary of State:
  • 40 days if less than 1,000 registered voters
  • 60 days if less than 5,000 registered voters but at least 1,000
  • 90 days if less than 10,000 registered voters but at least 5,000
  • 120 days if less than 50,000 registered voters but at least 10,000
  • 160 days if 50,000 registered voters or more
(For number of signatures required, see EC 11221)
11220
Prior to signature collection deadline (above)Proponents file recall petition with elections official.11220, 11222
Within 30 days, excluding Saturdays, Sundays and holidays, from filingElections official examines recall petition and determines how many signatures are valid.
  • If number of valid signatures is greater than or equal to number needed, elections official certifies petition to be sufficient.
  • If number of valid signatures is less than number needed, elections official certifies petition to be insufficient and no further action is taken.
11222, 11223, 11225
Next regular meeting of governing board of jurisdiction, after petition certificationElections official certifies petition to be sufficient to governing board of jurisdiction at its next regular meeting.11224, 11225
Within 14 days of meetingGoverning board of jurisdiction issues order stating recall election shall be held.11240, 11242
Within 88 - 125 days of orderDate range when recall election must be held.
(No election shall be held on any day other than a Tuesday, nor shall any election be held on the day before, the day of, or the day after, a state holiday)
1100,
11242
*There is no specific deadline for publication of notice of intention but proof of publication must be filed at the same time that two blank copies of draft petition are filed with ROV (EC 11042).

State Initiatives

Please refer to the Statewide Initiative Guide on the California Secretary of State’s website

County Initiatives

DeadlineStepElections Code
Proponents file notice of intention to circulate petition and pay filing fee.9103
Within 15 days of filingCounty Counsel files ballot title and summary.9105
*Proponents publish notice of intention, ballot title and summary, file proof of publication with elections official.9105
After publicationInitiative petition allowed to circulate.9105, 9108
Within 180 days of proponents receiving ballot title and summaryProponents file initiative petitions with ROV.
(For number of signatures required, see EC 9118 and California Constitution, Article 13C, Section 3)
9110
Within 30 or 60 days, excluding Saturdays, Sundays and holidays, of filingROV examines initiative petition and determines how many signatures are valid.
Within 30 days**, if more than 500 signatures, ROV can use random sampling for verification, to verify at least 500 or 3 percent of the signatures, whichever is greater. If sampling shows the number of valid signatures is within 95 to 110 percent of the number needed, the elections official shall, within 60 days**, verify all the signatures.
  • If number of valid signatures is greater than or equal to number needed, elections official certifies petition to be sufficient and takes next step.
  • If number of valid signatures is less than number needed, elections official certifies petition to be insufficient and no further action is taken.
9115
Next regular Board meeting, after petition certificationCertification of petition at next regular meeting of the Board of Supervisors, if petition is found to be sufficient.
Board Options:
  • Adopt ordinance without alteration within 10 days
  • Submit ordinance to voters (at next state wide election, not less than 88 days after order OR Special Election to be held between 88 – 103 days)
  • Order report, due within 30 days, after which Board of Supervisors can adopt or submit to voters
4105, 9111, 9115, 9118
* No specific deadline listed

Municipal (City) Initiatives

The Clerk of the respective City or Town, not the ROV Office, oversees municipal initiatives. Direct any questions about municipal initiatives to the City/Town Clerk.

DeadlineStepElections Code
Proponents file notice of intention to circulate petition with City/Town Clerk and pay filing fee.9202
Within 15 days of filingCity/Town Attorney files ballot title and summary with City/Town Clerk.9203
*Proponents publish Notice of Intention, ballot title and summary9205
Within 10 days of publicationFile proof of publication with elections official9206
After publicationPetition allowed to circulate9207
Within 180 days of proponents receiving ballot title & summaryPetitions filed with City/Town Clerk
(For number of signatures required, see EC 9215 and California Constitution, Article 13C, Section 3)
9208
Within 30 or 60 days, excluding Saturdays, Sundays and holidays, of filingCity/Town Clerk examines initiative petition and determines how many signatures are valid.
Within 30 days**, if more than 500 signatures, ROV can use random sampling for verification, to verify at least 500 or 3 percent of the signatures, whichever is greater. If sampling shows the number of valid signatures is within 95 to 110 percent of the number needed, the elections official shall, within 60 days**, verify all the signatures.
  • If number of valid signatures is greater than or equal to number needed, elections official certifies petition to be sufficient and takes next step.
  • If number of valid signatures is less than number needed, elections official certifies petition to be insufficient and no further action is taken.
9211, 9114, 9115
Next regular Council meeting, after certification of petitionCity/town clerk certifies petition to be sufficient to city/town council at next city/town regular board meeting.
City/Town Council can take one of three actions:
  • Adopt ordinance without alteration within 10 days
  • Submit ordinance to voters (at next state wide election, not less than 88 days after order OR Special Election to be held between 88 – 103 days)
  • Order report, due within 30 days, after which City/Town Council can adopt or submit to voters
1405, 9114, 9115, 9211, 9215
* No specific deadline listed

District Initiatives

DeadlineStepElections Code
Proponents publish notice of intention to circulate petition and statement of the reasons for the proposed petition 9302
Within 10 days of publicationProponents file notice of intention and statement of reasons, written text of initiative, and proof of publication with ROV9304
After filing Initiative petition allowed to circulate.9305
Within 180 days of filing Proponents file initiative petition with ROV.
(For number of signatures required, see EC 9310 and California Constitution, Article 13C, Section 3)
9306
Within 30 or 60 days, excluding Saturdays, Sundays and holidays, of filingROV examines initiative petition and determines how many signatures are valid.
Within 30 days**, if more than 500 signatures, ROV can use random sampling for verification, to verify at least 500 or 3 percent of the signatures, whichever is greater. If sampling shows the number of valid signatures is within 95 to 110 percent of the number needed, the elections official shall, within 60 days**, verify all the signatures.
  • If number of valid signatures is greater than or equal to number needed, elections official certifies petition to be sufficient and takes next step.
  • If number of valid signatures is less than number needed, elections official certifies petition to be insufficient and no further action is taken.
9308, 9309
Next regular Board meeting, after certificationROV certifies petition to be sufficient to district board at next district board regular board meeting.
Board can take one of two actions:
  • Adopt ordinance without alteration within 10 days
  • Submit ordinance without alteration to voters (at jurisdiction’s next regular election, not less than 88 days after order OR Special Election to be held between 88 – 103 days)
1405, 9308, 9309, 9310

Contact Information

Deva Marie Proto

County Clerk-Recorder-Assessor-Registrar of Voters

Business Hours
Monday – Friday
8:00 AM – 5:00 PM

Addresses

Registrar of Voters

435 Fiscal Drive

Santa Rosa, CA 95403
38.4657357, -122.7251823
Mailing Address
PO Box 11485
Santa Rosa, CA 95406-1485
Follow Us