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AGO 1950 No. 399 - December 04, 1950
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Smith Troy | 1941-1952 | Attorney General of Washington

ELECTIONS ‑- DIVISION OF EXPENSES ‑- SCHOOL DISTRICT ELECTIONS

A county auditor may charge a proper proportionate share of election expenses to any municipality scheduling a special election in concert with either a state primary or general election.

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                                                                December 4, 1950

Honorable Earl Coe
Secretary of State
Legislative Building
Olympia, Washington                                                                                                              Cite as:  AGO 49-51 No. 399

Dear Sir:

            In your letter of November 1, 1950, you ask the following question:

            "Whenever the governing board of any municipality (including 1st, 2nd and 3rd class school districts) schedule a special election to be held in concert with a state primary or general election‑-can the county auditor, as ex-officio supervisor of elections, charge back to the respective municipalities concerned their proportionate share of the election expenses?"

            You are advised:

            A county auditor may charge a proper proportionate share of election expenses to any municipality scheduling a special election in concert with either a state primary or general election.

                                                                     ANALYSIS

             [[Orig. Op. Page 2]]

            It is the duty of a county auditor among other things to provide voting facilities, appoint and compensate election officers and "* * * apportion to each city, town or district, its share of the expense of such elections: * * *."  Section 1, chapter 182, Laws of 1947 (5166-10 Rem. Supp. 1947).

            With the exception of irrigation districts in first class counties, all municipal elections in class A and first class counties are conducted by the county auditor and canvassed by the county canvassing board of election returns.  Section 1, chapter 161, Laws of 1949 (5144 Rem. Supp. 1949); section 5, chapter 161, Laws of 1949 (5153-1 Rem. Supp. 1949).

            It is therefore proper to include a portion of the compensation paid such officials as well as rental of polling places and other expenses common to all municipalities holding such special elections in the charge to be made those municipalities.  Letter of November 30, 1942, to Hon. F. B. Cowen, Prosecuting Attorney, Kitsap County; letter of May 27, 1946, to Honorable Edson Dow, Prosecuting Attorney, Chelan County; letter of January 10, 1950, to Honorable Joe L. Johnson, Prosecuting Attorney, Cowlitz County [[Opinion No. 49-51-194]].

            In counties other than class A and those of the first class, however, municipal elections are "* * * conducted and canvassed by the local municipal or district officers normally charged with the conducting of said elections."  Section 2, chapter 161, Laws of 1949 (5150 Rem. Supp. 1949); section 5, chapter 161, Laws of 1949 (5153-1 Rem. Supp. 1949).

            It follows, therefore, that no proportion of the expense of the county canvassing board may be charged to municipalities in counties other than class A and first class counties (or to irrigation districts in first class counties) holding special elections with either a primary or general election since that is an expense of the particular municipality or district charged with duty of conducting the election.  Expenses such as rental of polling places and other expenses common to all municipalities holding such special elections in counties other than class A and first class counties may be charged in proper proportion to those municipalities.

            The expense of printing and delivering ballots is a charge on the particular municipality holding the special election.  Section 5269 Rem. Rev. Stat.

            We have pointed out that the expense of conducting special elections called by irrigation districts in first class counties and all municipalities or districts in other than class A or first class counties is one which the county  [[Orig. Op. Page 3]] cannot assume and divide.  That expense remains one of the municipality calling the election, but only as provided by law.  We illustrate our point by calling your attention to the compensation of the election board in second and third class school district elections.

            Prior to the enactment of section 3, chapter 194, Laws of 1945 (5145 Rem. Supp. 1945), the judges and clerk of elections called on behalf of school districts in second and third class counties were not compensated for their services as such.  Letter of May 5, 1944, to Hon. Elmore Geneste, Prosecuting Attorney, San Juan County; letter of May 27, 1942, to Hon. W. Miller, Prosecuting Attorney, Adams County; letter of March 23, 1939, to Hon. Ralph E. Foley, Prosecuting Attorney, Spokane County; letter of March 28, 1936, to Hon. N. D. Showalter, State Superintendent of Schools; letter of April 17, 1916, to Madge Nailor, Clerk, Port Angeles, Washington; letter of March 10, 1916, to Bureau of Inspection of Public Offices; Ops. Atty. Gen. 1919-20, p. 274.

            Section 3, chapter 194, Laws of 1945 (5147 Rem. Supp. 1945), did authorize compensation for school district election officials, but section 1, chapter 182, Laws of 1947 (5166-10 Rem. Supp. 1947), provided that second and third class school district elections should be held as though chapter 194, Laws of 1945, had not been enacted.

            Hence, under section 1, chapter 161, Laws of 1949 (5144 Rem. Supp. 1949), second and third class school districts in class A and first class counties pay a proportionate part of the cost of the county canvassing board, but second and third class school districts in other than class A and first class counties may not pay the election judges and clerk who by virtue of section 5, chapter 161, Laws of 1949 (5153-1 Rem. Supp. 1949), conduct school elections in those counties.

Very truly yours,

SMITH TROY
Attorney General

E. P. DONNELLY
Assistant Attorney General

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