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AGO 1960 No. 133 - July 29, 1960
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John J. O'Connell | 1957-1968 | Attorney General of Washington

SCHOOL DISTRICTS - VALIDATING VOTING REQUIREMENTS FOR EXCESS LEVY ELECTIONS.

(1) If a special school excess levy election is held on November 8, 1960, the validating vote is to be based on the last preceding general election in the district, which would be the March 1960 general school district election.

(2) If a general obligation bond issue payable out of excess levies is on the November 8, 1960 ballot, the validating vote is to be based on the November, 1958 general state election.

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                                                                    July 29, 1960

Honorable John G. McCutcheon
Prosecuting Attorney of Pierce County
County Court House
Tacoma, Washington                                                                                         Cite as:  AGO 59-60 No. 133

Dear Sir:

            By letter previously acknowledged you requested an opinion of this office on whether the September, 1960 primary election is a general election or general state election within the meaning of chapter 290, Laws of 1959.  Specifically, you desire to know:

            1.  If a special school excess levy election is held on November 8, 1960, is the validating vote to be based on the total vote at the September 13, 1960 primary election?

            2.  Is the validating vote for a general obligation bond issue, if voted on November 8, 1960, to be based on the September 13, 1960 primary election?

            We answer both questions in the negative.

                                                                     ANALYSIS

            At the outset, the distinction between a school excess levy election and a bond election (to be paid out of excess levies) must be recognized:  (1) In AGO 59-60 No. 120 [[to Prosecuting Attorney, Kitsap County on May 31, 1960]], we concluded that the voting requirements for a  [[Orig. Op. Page 2]] special school excess levy election are to be based on thelast general election in the district in accordance with the provisions of section 1, chapter 290, Laws of 1959 (RCW 84.52.052).  (2) In AGO 59-60 No. 85 [[to Victor Meyers, Secretary of State on November 18, 1959]], chapter 290, Laws of 1959 (RCW 84.52.052).  (2) In AGO 59-60 No. 85, we stated that the voting requirement for a school bond election, payable out of excess levies, is to be based on the last general state election pursuant to section 2, chapter 290, Laws of 1959 (RCW 84.52.056).

            Thus, we need only determine whether the September 1960 primary election is a general or general state election in order to answer the questions presented.

            It is well established that all statutes on a given subject must be considered in pari materia.  Rummens v. Evans 168 Wash. 527, 13 P. (2d) 26, (1932).  See Also: State v. Houck 32 Wn. (2d) 681, 203 P. 693; State ex rel. Chesterley v. Superior Court 19 Wn. (2d) 791, 144 P. (2d) 916.  Therefore, since the terms "general election" and "general state election" are not defined in chapter 290, Laws of 1959, we must turn to the general provisions of our election laws to determine the meaning intended to be attributed to these words.

            In Title 29 of the Revised Code of Washington [[Title 29 RCW]]wherein the general election laws of this state are codified, we find the following pertinent definitions:

            RCW 29.01.050.  "'Election' when used alone means a general election except where the context indicates that a special election is meant.  'Election' when used without qualification never means a primary election."

            RCW 29.01.130.  "'Primary' or 'primary election' means a statutory procedure for nominating candidates to public office at the polls."

            RCW 29.01.160.  "'September primary' means the primary election held in September to nominate candidates to be voted for at the ensuing election."

            This office, in an opinion to the Honorable A. H. Lundin, Prosecuting Attorney, King County, dated August 2, 1916, said:

            "A primary election, while 'general' in the sense that candidates are selected throughout the state and for state offices, is not an election within the ordinary meaning of that term as used in the statutes and constitution of this state.  'It is not the purpose of the primary election law to elect officers.  The purpose is to select candidates for office to be voted for at the general election.'  State ex rel. Zent v. Nichols 50 Wash. 508-22.

             [[Orig. Op. Page 3]]

            Moreover, in several sections of chapter 16, supra [Laws of 1915] a clear distinction is made between 'general elections' and 'primaries,' showing that the legislature did not intend to include a primary within the term general election."

            Among some of the statutes which recognize the distinction between a primary and general election are: (1) RCW 29.13.010 (elections by county constituencies or larger); (2) RCW 29.13.070 (nominating primaries for general elections); (3) RCW 29.13.080 (opening and closing polls at primary elections); (4) RCW 29.18.010 (partisan primary election); (5) RCW 29.18.030 (declaration of candidacy); (6) RCW 29.18.060 (declaration of candidacy, duplication of names); (7) RCW 29.18.120 (procedure at primary election -general election laws apply).

            The term "general election" has been discussed in AGO 59-60 No. 120; AGO 51-53 No. 479 [[to O. H. Olson, State Representative on February 6, 1953]]; and letters written to the Honorable Richard Ruoff, State Representative, 32nd District, dated February 2, 1959 and the Honorable R. R. Grieve, State Senator, 34th District, dated February 2, 1959, copies of which are enclosed for your information.

            It is our opinion, based on the authorities stated above, that the September primary is not a general or general state election within the meaning of chapter 290, Laws of 1959.

            Accordingly, we answer your specific questions as follows:

            (1) If a special school excess levy election is held on November 8, 1960, the validating vote is to be based on the last preceding general election in the district which, at that time, would be the March 1960 general school district election.  See AGO 59-60 No. 120 [[to Prosecuting Attorney, Kitsap County on May 31, 1960]].

            (2) If a general obligation bond issue, payable out of excess levies, appears on the November 8, 1960 ballot, the validating vote is to be based on the November 1958 general state election.  See AGO 59-60 No. 85.

            We trust the foregoing will be of assistance to you.  In the event that you have any further questions concerning this subject, please feel free to contact this office.

Very truly yours,

JOHN J. O'CONNELL
Attorney General

ROBERT J. DORAN
Assistant Attorney General

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