Journal of Legislation
This Article argues that California’s occupational designation option should be abolished, having outlived whatever usefulness it may have had in 1931. Today, it is a source of headaches for elections officials across the state. It often leads to litigation over whether a candidate’s chosen designation is inaccurate or might mislead voters. It is inconsistently enforced. It is frequently used by candidates not to provide voters with helpful information but to gain an electoral advantage over their opponents. The time has come for California to join the forty-nine states that do not automatically allow candidates to include their occupations on the ballot.
Section I of this Article reviews the history and purpose of California’s ballot designation statute. Section II explains how certain key terms are defined in the statute and accompanying regulations. Section III describes some of the many legal challenges that have been brought to various candidates’ chosen designations, and how those cases and controversies were resolved. Section IV attempts to determine which designations are most advantageous electorally and why. Section V discusses the pros and cons of allowing candidates to describe their occupations on the ballot, ultimately concluding that the cons outweigh the pros. Finally, Section VI discusses various reforms that would improve the statute if it cannot be eliminated altogether.