Word Count

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Word Counting Guidelines

Except for candidate ballot designations, which are addressed in the Candidate's Guide and Section 13107 of the California Elections Code​.

Pursuant to the interpretation of Section 9 of the California Elections Code by the Voter Registration and Elections Department, each word in candidate statements, ballot questions, measure arguments, and impartial analyses will be counted as one word except as specified below.


Punctuation is not counted. This refers to the following symbols: , . : ; ! ? ( ) [ ] ’ ” 

Symbols are not counted as separate words. This refers to the following symbols: $, #, *, and % 

All proper nouns, including geographical names, shall be considered as one word. Examples are: City of Sacramento, Sacramento County Charter, or Elk Grove Unified School District. 

Each abbreviation or acronym for a word, phrase, or expression shall be counted as one word.  Examples include: Feb. (February), Wed. (Wednesday), NASA, e.g., i.e., J.D., PhD. and K-8.

Hyphenated words shall be considered as one word.  This includes hyphenated words that appear in any generally available standard reference dictionary published in the United States at any time within the 10 calendar years immediately preceding the election. Each part of all other hyphenated words shall be counted as a separate word. The Registrar of Voters retains discretion to determine whether a word is included in a standard reference dictionary for these purposes. 

Dates shall be counted as one word.  Whether purely numeric (06/14/1846) or otherwise (July 4, 1776; September Eighth, Nineteen Sixty-Six). 

Any number consisting of a digit or digits shall be considered one word. Examples include: (100; 3; 525,600),  any number which is spelled, such as “one,” shall be considered as a separate word or words. One will be counted as one word, while One Hundred will be counted as two words and Five Hundred Thousand as three words. 

Telephone numbers will be counted as one word. Internet website addresses and email addresses will be counted as one word. 

In an itemized list shall be counted as one word. Examples include: headers such as “A.)” or “1)” will be counted as one word. Bullet points will not be counted as a separate word.