California Elections Code
(a) The following provisions shall apply to those elections where candidates for one or more of the following offices are voted upon: President, Vice President, United States Senator, and United States Representative.
(b) The packages containing the following ballots and identification envelope shall be kept by the elections official, unopened and unaltered, for 22 months from the date of the election:
(1) Voted polling place ballots.
(2) Paper record copies, as defined by Section 19271, if any, of voted polling place ballots.
(3) Voted vote by mail voter ballots.
(4) Vote by mail voter identification envelopes.
(5) Voted provisional voter ballots.
(6) Provisional ballot voter identification envelopes.
(9) Unused vote by mail ballots surrendered by the voter pursuant to Section 3015.
(c) If a contest is not commenced
within the 22-month period, or if a criminal prosecution involving fraudulent use, marking or falsification of ballots, or forgery of vote by mail voters’ signatures is not commenced within the 22-month period, either of which may involve the vote of the precinct from which voted ballots were received, the elections official shall have the ballots destroyed or recycled. The packages shall otherwise remain unopened until the ballots are destroyed or recycled.