The County Clerks, except in several large counties where they are appointed, are nonpartisan, countywide elected officials serving four-year terms. Due to the complexity of the arrangements in each of the 58 counties in California, the County Clerk may also assume a variety of other duties and its office may be consolidated with other separate, independently elected countywide offices such as the tax collector-treasurer, auditor, assessor, or public guardian. Depending on the county organization, the County Clerk may also be the Registrar of Voters, Recorder, Clerk of the Board of Supervisors, and/or Clerk of the Superior or Municipal Court. To illustrate, Placer County has a County Clerk-Recorder-Registrar, San Diego has a Recorder-County Clerk, and Fresno has a County Clerk-Registrar of Voters. In some counties, each office is independent and the Clerk, Registrar, or Recorder may be either elected or appointed by the Board of Supervisors, depending on the provisions of state law or the respective county charter.
County Clerk — Provides a variety of direct public services, such as issuing marriage licenses; registering confidential marriages; filing fictitious business name statements; filing and qualifying notary public oaths and bonds; processing passport applications; posting environmental documents; registering process servers; administering and filing oaths of office; filing grand jury reports; and filing, indexing, and maintaining a variety of miscellaneous public documents. The County Clerk is the Commissioner of Civil Marriages and may perform civil marriage ceremonies.
Clerk of the Board of Supervisors — Provides overall support to the Board, including processing and maintaining all Board records and agendas; preparing and monitoring the Board budget; attending and taking minutes at all sessions of the Board and its affiliated agencies; providing clerical and secretarial support to the Board; and, in some counties, providing staff support to the Assessment Appeals Board.
Clerk to the Superior or Municipal Court — Provides ministerial support to the court, including processing and maintaining all court documents and files; attending and taking minutes of all sessions of the court; collecting all fees and forfeitures on behalf of the court; supervising and training all clerical support staff; and generally providing whatever is required by law or court directive. For consolidated courts, there is only one clerk.
Recorder — Files and maintains public documents associated with land transactions, including sale, lien, purchase, and easement; files and maintains documents associated with vital statistics, including births, deaths, and regular marriages (as opposed to confidential marriages); and maintains a cumulative record of all official documents for the county.
Registrar of Voters — Registers all voters in the county and maintains the voter files; verifies petitions; files campaign statements, with the exception of city elections, which are conducted by the city clerk; conducts all elections in the county (i.e., federal, state, county, school, and special district elections); and contracts with some cities to conduct their elections. Cities, schools, and special districts pay for the costs of their elections; county, state, and federal elections are paid for by the county.