About the Agency

The Secretary of State's office comprises nearly 500 people who are dedicated to making government more transparent and accessible in the areas of elections, business, political campaigning, legislative advocacy, and historical treasures.

The Secretary of State's responsibilities include:

  • Serving as the state's Chief Elections Officer
  • Implementing electronic filing and Internet disclosure of campaign and lobbyist financial information
  • Maintaining business filings
  • Commissioning notaries public
  • Operating the Safe at Home confidential address program
  • Maintaining the Domestic Partners and Advance Health Care Directive Registries
  • Safeguarding the State Archives
  • Serving as a trustee of the California Museum

Secretary of State Organizational Chart (PDF)

For contact information, visit our Contact Us page.


Services

California State Archives

The Secretary of State is responsible for safeguarding California’s history in the State Archives. The Archives staff collect, organize and preserve the state's permanent government records and other historical materials such as maps, architectural drawings, photographs, video and audio tapes, and artifacts.

The California Museum

Dedicated to telling the rich history of California's unique influence on the world of technology, government, arts, sports and culture, the California Museum houses two stories of exhibit space full of fascinating objects and interactive displays.

Read more about Archives

Business Programs

The Business Programs Division, the largest division of the Secretary of State’s office, supports California Businesses by registering and authenticating business entities and trademarks and enabling secured creditors to protect their financial interests.  The Business Programs Division processes millions of business filings and information requests each year.

The Business Entities Section processes, files and maintains records related to corporations, limited liability companies, partnerships and other business entities that wish to do business in California.

The Special Filings Section include trademarks and service marks as well as bonds that certain business entities (including immigration consultants) are required to file, joint power agreements, city and county charters and claims for successor-in-interest.

The Uniform Commercial Code Section files financing documents that provide potential secured creditors notice of possible interests in personal property of a debtor. Lien notices are also filed, helping establish priority should a debtor default or file for bankruptcy protection.

The Victims of Corporate Fraud Compensation Fund protects consumers and provides restitution to victims who are unable to collect on a corporate fraud judgment.

Read more about Business Programs

Elections

The Elections Division oversees all federal and state elections within California. In every statewide election, California prepares voter information pamphlets in 10 languages — English, Spanish, Chinese, Hindi, Japanese, Khmer, Korean, Tagalog, Thai and Vietnamese — for nearly 18 million registered voters. As the chief elections officer for the largest state in the nation, the California Secretary of State tests and approves all voting equipment for security, accuracy, reliability and accessibility in order to ensure that every vote is counted as it was cast. The Secretary also ensures election laws and campaign disclosure requirements are enforced, maintains a statewide database of all registered voters, certifies the official lists of candidates for elections, tracks and certifies ballot initiatives, compiles election returns and certifies election results, educates California citizens about their voting rights, and promotes voter registration and participation.

Read more about Elections

Information Technology

The Information Technology Division (ITD) supports the business requirements of the Secretary of State by planning, developing, implementing and maintaining innovative and effective business and information systems in active partnership with the Agency program divisions, vendors, and other agencies.

ITD supports the remainder of the Agency which in turn serve a wide variety of external entities collectively referred to as stakeholders, including federal and state agencies, the state legislature, lobbyists, financial institutions, attorneys, county governments, media organizations, vendors, and the general public, among others.

Notary Public and Authentications

The Notary Public Section appoints and commissions eligible notaries public. A notary public is a public official who performs valuable services to the legal, business, financial and real estate communities by certifying or witnessing signatures on official documents.

The Notary Public Section also certifies to the authenticity of notaries public and public officials' signatures on documents used in foreign countries.

Learn more about Notary Public and Authentications

Political Reform

The Political Reform Division helps make the political process more transparent by helping people monitor financing of state political campaigns and lobbying activities. Most candidates for state office, ballot measure committees and anyone who lobbies the State Legislature and state agencies must file detailed financial disclosure statements with the Secretary of State. That information is available online through the Campaign Automated Lobbyist and Campaign Contribution and Expenditure Search System (CAL-ACCESS) at cal-access.sos.ca.gov/.

Read more about Political Reform

Registries

Safe at Home

Safe at Home is a confidential address program that protects the identities of survivors of domestic violence, sexual assault, stalking victims and employees, volunteers and patients of reproductive health care clinics. The Secretary of State's office receives and forwards the first-class mail of participants, confidentially registers eligible participants to vote, and works with government agencies and private companies to provide additional identity protection. For more information, visit www.sos.ca.gov/registries/safe-home/.

Advance Health Care Directive (AHCD)

Advance Health Care Directive Registry maintains AHCDs, which allow a person to indicate to their loved ones and medical providers their medical treatment preferences if they cannot speak or make decisions for themselves. The AHCD may also designate someone else to make decisions regarding medical treatment. AHCDs and related information can be provided upon request to the registrant's health care provider, public guardian or legal representative.

Domestic Partners

The Domestic Partners Registry registers same-sex couples regardless of the age of the partners, and opposite-sex couples in which one partner is at least 62 years old, as domestic partners in California when they file a Declaration of Domestic Partnership.

Read more about Registries