Code Section Group

Elections Code - ELEC

DIVISION 20. ELECTION CAMPAIGNS [20000 - 20502]

  ( Division 20 enacted by Stats. 1994, Ch. 920, Sec. 2. )

CHAPTER 1. Endorsements of Candidates [20000 - 20010]
  ( Chapter 1 enacted by Stats. 1994, Ch. 920, Sec. 2. )

20000.
  

This chapter shall be known and may be cited as the Truth in Endorsements Law.

(Enacted by Stats. 1994, Ch. 920, Sec. 2.)

20001.
  

The Legislature hereby finds the following to be true:

(1) The major political parties have become an integral part of the American governmental system requiring regulation as to their structure, governing bodies, and functions by state government in the public interest.

(2) The Legislature has found it necessary and appropriate in the regulation of political parties to create and provide for the convening of state conventions, state central committees, and county central committees for parties qualified by law to participate in the direct primary election, by statute.

(3) Over the several years preceding the adoption of this section organizations of electors using as a part of their names the name of a political party qualified to participate in the direct primary election have endorsed candidates for nomination of that party for partisan office in the direct primary election and have publicized and promulgated the endorsements in a manner that has resulted in considerable public doubt and confusion as to whether the endorsements are those of a private group of citizens or of an official governing body of a political party.

(4) The voting public is entitled to protection by law from deception in political campaigns in the same manner and for the same reasons that it is entitled to protection from deception by advertisers of commercial products.

(Enacted by Stats. 1994, Ch. 920, Sec. 2.)

20006.
  

The superior court, in any case brought before it by any registered voter, may issue a temporary or permanent restraining order or injunction against the publication, printing, circulation, posting, broadcasting, or telecasting of any matter in violation of this chapter, and all cases of this nature shall be in a preferred position for purposes of trial and appeal, so as to assure the speedy disposition thereof.

(Enacted by Stats. 1994, Ch. 920, Sec. 2.)

20007.
  

No candidate or committee in his or her behalf shall represent in connection with an election campaign, either orally or in campaign material, that the candidate has the support of a committee or organization that includes as part of its name the name or any variation upon the name of a qualified political party with which the candidate is not affiliated, together with the words “county committee,” “central committee,” “county,” or any other term that might tend to mislead the voters into believing that the candidate has the support of that party’s county central committee or state central committee, when that is not the case.

This section shall not be construed to prevent a candidate or committee from representing that the candidate has the support of a committee or group of voters affiliated with another political party, which committee or group is identified by the name of that party, where the name of the committee or group also includes the name of the candidate.

Any member of a county central committee or state central committee may commence an action in the superior court to enjoin misrepresentation by a candidate or committee in his or her behalf, in the manner prohibited by this section, to the effect that the candidate has the support of the state or county central committee involved.

(Enacted by Stats. 1994, Ch. 920, Sec. 2.)

20008.
  

Any paid political advertisement that refers to an election or to any candidate for state or local elective office and that is contained in or distributed with a newspaper, shall bear on each surface or page thereof, in type or lettering at least half as large as the type or lettering of the advertisement or in 10-point roman type, whichever is larger, the words “Paid Political Advertisement.” The words shall be set apart from any other printed matter.

As used in this section “paid political advertisement” shall mean and shall be limited to, published statements paid for by advertisers for purposes of supporting or defeating any person who has filed for an elective state or local office.

(Enacted by Stats. 1994, Ch. 920, Sec. 2.)

20009.
  

(a) Every simulated ballot or simulated county voter information guide shall bear on each surface or page thereof, in type or lettering at least half as large as the type or lettering of the statement or words or in 10-point roman type, whichever is larger, in a printed or drawn box and set apart from any other printed matter, the following statement:

“NOTICE TO VOTERS
“(Required by Law)


“This is not an official ballot or an official county voter information guide prepared by the county elections official or the Secretary of State.

“This is an unofficial, marked ballot prepared by ____ (insert name and address of the person or organization responsible for preparation thereof).”

This section shall not be construed as requiring this notice in any editorial or other statement appearing in a regularly published newspaper or magazine other than a paid political advertisement.

(b) A simulated ballot or simulated county voter information guide referred to in subdivision (a) shall not bear an official seal or the insignia of a public entity, and that seal or insignia shall not appear upon the envelope in which it is mailed or otherwise delivered.

(c) The superior court, in a case brought before it by a registered voter, may issue a temporary or permanent restraining order or injunction against the publication, printing, circulation, posting, or distribution of any matter in violation of this section, and all cases of this nature shall be in a preferred position for purposes of trial and appeal, so as to assure the speedy disposition of cases of this nature.

(Amended by Stats. 2016, Ch. 422, Sec. 84. (AB 2911) Effective January 1, 2017.)

20010.
  

(a) Except as provided in subdivision (b), a person, committee, as defined in Section 82013 of the Government Code, or other entity shall not, within 60 days of an election at which a candidate for elective office will appear on the ballot, distribute, with actual malice, materially deceptive audio or visual media, as defined in subdivision (e), of the candidate with the intent to injure the candidate’s reputation or to deceive a voter into voting for or against the candidate.

(b) (1) The prohibition in subdivision (a) does not apply if the audio or visual media includes a disclosure stating: “This _____ has been manipulated.”

(2) The blank in the disclosure required by paragraph (1) shall be filled with whichever of the following terms most accurately describes the media:

(A) Image.

(B) Video.

(C) Audio.

(3) (A) For visual media, the text of the disclosure shall appear in a size that is easily readable by the average viewer and no smaller than the largest font size of other text appearing in the visual media. If the visual media does not include any other text, the disclosure shall appear in a size that is easily readable by the average viewer. For visual media that is video, the disclosure shall appear for the duration of the video.

(B) If the media consists of audio only, the disclosure shall be read in a clearly spoken manner and in a pitch that can be easily heard by the average listener, at the beginning of the audio, at the end of the audio, and, if the audio is greater than two minutes in length, interspersed within the audio at intervals of not greater than two minutes each.

(c) (1) A candidate for elective office whose voice or likeness appears in a materially deceptive audio or visual media distributed in violation of this section may seek injunctive or other equitable relief prohibiting the distribution of audio or visual media in violation of this section. An action under this paragraph shall be entitled to precedence in accordance with Section 35 of the Code of Civil Procedure.

(2) A candidate for elective office whose voice or likeness appears in a materially deceptive audio or visual media distributed in violation of this section may bring an action for general or special damages against the person, committee, or other entity that distributed the materially deceptive audio or visual media. The court may also award a prevailing party reasonable attorney’s fees and costs. This subdivision shall not be construed to limit or preclude a plaintiff from securing or recovering any other available remedy.

(3) In any civil action alleging a violation of this section, the plaintiff shall bear the burden of establishing the violation through clear and convincing evidence.

(d) (1) This section shall not be construed to alter or negate any rights, obligations, or immunities of an interactive service provider under Section 230 of Title 47 of the United States Code.

(2) This section does not apply to a radio or television broadcasting station, including a cable or satellite television operator, programmer, or producer, that broadcasts materially deceptive audio or visual media prohibited by this section as part of a bona fide newscast, news interview, news documentary, or on-the-spot coverage of bona fide news events, if the broadcast clearly acknowledges through content or a disclosure, in a manner that can be easily heard or read by the average listener or viewer, that there are questions about the authenticity of the materially deceptive audio or visual media.

(3) This section does not apply to a radio or television broadcasting station, including a cable or satellite television operator, programmer, or producer, when it is paid to broadcast materially deceptive audio or visual media.

(4) This section does not apply to an internet website, or a regularly published newspaper, magazine, or other periodical of general circulation, including an internet or electronic publication, that routinely carries news and commentary of general interest, and that publishes materially deceptive audio or visual media prohibited by this section, if the publication clearly states that the materially deceptive audio or visual media does not accurately represent the speech or conduct of the candidate.

(5) This section does not apply to materially deceptive audio or visual media that constitutes satire or parody.

(e) As used in this section, “materially deceptive audio or visual media” means an image or an audio or video recording of a candidate’s appearance, speech, or conduct that has been intentionally manipulated in a manner such that both of the following conditions are met:

(1) The image or audio or video recording would falsely appear to a reasonable person to be authentic.

(2) The image or audio or video recording would cause a reasonable person to have a fundamentally different understanding or impression of the expressive content of the image or audio or video recording than that person would have if the person were hearing or seeing the unaltered, original version of the image or audio or video recording.

(f) The provisions of this section are severable. If any provision of this section or its application is held invalid, that invalidity shall not affect other provisions or applications that can be given effect without the invalid provision or application.

(g) This section shall remain in effect only until January 1, 2023, and as of that date is repealed, unless a later enacted statute, that is enacted before January 1, 2023, deletes or extends that date.

(Added by Stats. 2019, Ch. 493, Sec. 4. (AB 730) Effective January 1, 2020. Repealed as of January 1, 2023, by its own provisions. See related later operative section as amended by Sec. 3 of Stats. 2019, Ch. 493.)

20010.
  

(a) Except as provided in subdivision (b), a person, firm, association, corporation, campaign committee, or organization shall not, with actual malice, produce, distribute, publish, or broadcast campaign material that contains (1) a picture or photograph of a person or persons into which the image of a candidate for public office is superimposed or (2) a picture or photograph of a candidate for public office into which the image of another person or persons is superimposed. “Campaign material” includes, but is not limited to, any printed matter, advertisement in a newspaper or other periodical, television commercial, or computer image. For purposes of this section, “actual malice” means the knowledge that the image of a person has been superimposed on a picture or photograph to create a false representation, or a reckless disregard of whether or not the image of a person has been superimposed on a picture or photograph to create a false representation.

(b) A person, firm, association, corporation, campaign committee, or organization may produce, distribute, publish, or broadcast campaign material that contains a picture or photograph prohibited by subdivision (a) only if each picture or photograph in the campaign material includes the following statement in the same point size type as the largest point size type used elsewhere in the campaign material: “This picture is not an accurate representation of fact.” The statement shall be immediately adjacent to each picture or photograph prohibited by subdivision (a).

(c) (1) Any registered voter may seek a temporary restraining order and an injunction prohibiting the publication, distribution, or broadcasting of any campaign material in violation of this section. Upon filing a petition under this section, the plaintiff may obtain a temporary restraining order in accordance with Section 527 of the Code of Civil Procedure.

(2) A candidate for public office whose likeness appears in a picture or photograph prohibited by subdivision (a) may bring a civil action against any person, firm, association, corporation, campaign committee, or organization that produced, distributed, published, or broadcast the picture or photograph prohibited by subdivision (a). The court may award damages in an amount equal to the cost of producing, distributing, publishing, or broadcasting the campaign material that violated this section, in addition to reasonable attorney’s fees and costs.

(d) (1) This section does not apply to a holder of a license granted pursuant to the federal Communications Act of 1934 (47 U.S.C. Sec. 151 et seq.) in the performance of the functions for which the license is granted.

(2) This section does not apply to the publisher or an employee of a newspaper, magazine, or other periodical that is published on a regular basis for any material published in that newspaper, magazine, or other periodical. For purposes of this subdivision, a “newspaper, magazine, or other periodical that is published on a regular basis” does not include any newspaper, magazine, or other periodical that has as its primary purpose the publication of campaign advertising or communication, as defined by Section 304.

(e) This section shall become operative on January 1, 2023.

(Amended (as added by Stats. 1998, Ch. 718, Sec. 2) by Stats. 2019, Ch. 493, Sec. 3. (AB 730) Effective January 1, 2020. This amendment makes this section inoperative from January 1, 2020, until January 2023, during operation of the related section added by Sec. 4 of Stats. 2019, Ch. 493.)

ELECElections Code - ELEC