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AGO 1953 No. 174 - November 25, 1953
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Don Eastvold | 1953-1956 | Attorney General of Washington

DIKING AND DRAINAGE DISTRICTS ‑- TIME OF HOLDING ELECTIONS IN CLASS A COUNTIES ‑- JURISDICTION TO CONDUCT ELECTIONS ‑- IMPLIED REPEAL BY LATER INCONSISTENT STATUTE

The 1953 legislature in fixing a different date for election of diking and drainage district commissioners than that provided for by the earlier consolidated election law impliedly repealed the consolidated election act to the extent of the inconsistency between them.  Jurisdiction to supervise and conduct such elections formerly vested in the county auditor ex officio is now vested in the commissioners of such districts.

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                                                               November 25, 1953

Honorable John J. O'Connell
Prosecuting Attorney
Pierce County
Tacoma, Washington                                                                                                              Cite as:  AGO 53-55 No. 174

Attention:  !ttJohn A. Petrich

            Civil Deputy

Dear Sir:

            We have your letter of November 3, 1953, in which you inquire as to the effect of chapter 84, Laws of 1953, upon the election of commissioners of diking and drainage districts in class A counties.  Your request for an opinion concerns the following specific questions:

            1. Does chapter 84, Laws of 1953, repeal by implication the consolidated election laws in fixing the election date for commissioners of diking and drainage districts in class A counties?

            2. Does chapter 84, Laws of 1953, repeal by implication RCW 29.04.020 and 29.13.040 regarding officers in charge of elections for diking and drainage districts in class A counties?

             [[Orig. Op. Page 2]]

            In our opinion, both questions must be answered in the affirmative.

                                                                     ANALYSIS

            1. Prior to the 1953 amendment, RCW 85.04.035 provided that commissioners of diking and drainage districts should be elected for three‑year terms commencing on the first Monday in April.  Each year the office of one of the commissioners was subject to election held on the second Tuesday in March.  Chapter 84, Laws of 1953, provides for a six-year term commencing on the first Monday in January.  Elections are to be held biennially on the fourth Tuesday in November in the even numbered years.  The statute made provision for the transition to the new terms.  Under the consolidated election laws, RCW 29.13.020 provides, in part, that

            "All city, town, school district, park district, diking district, * * * and all other municipal and district elections, except as hereinafter provided, * * * shall be held in class A counties on the second Tuesday in March in the year in which they may be called."

            The statute specifically does not apply to elections in irrigation districts, port districts and public utility districts.  Manifestly there is an irreconcilable conflict between the two statutes as to the date of election.  We are of the opinion that chapter 84, Laws of 1953, impliedly repeals RCW 29.13.020 to the extent of the inconsistency in their terms.

            2. RCW 29.04.020 designates the county auditor of each county as ex officio the supervisor of all elections subject to the proviso that this section shall not apply to elections for any city, town or district which is not subject to RCW 29.13.020 and 29.13.030.  Chapter 84, Laws of 1953, provides that the biennial elections for commissioners of diking and drainage districts "* * * shall be conducted by the board of commissioners of such district, * * *."

            On January 19, 1950, this office advised the Secretary of State that the county auditor, as ex officio supervisor of elections, has sole jurisdiction to conduct drainage district elections in class A and first class counties.  That opinion pointed out that the 1949 legislature had amended both the consolidated election laws and the drainage district elections statute.  Then, as now, there was an irreconcilable conflict as to jurisdiction to conduct the elections.  But it appeared that the consolidated election law was signed by the Governor one hour  [[Orig. Op. Page 3]] later than the special drainage district election act, and thus impliedly repealed the earlier enacted statute to the extent of the inconsistency between them.  Obviously the legislature could not have intended that both the county auditor and the district commissioners should have jurisdiction to conduct these elections.

            A well-recognized rule of statutory construction is that where two acts cannot be harmonized or reconciled, that statute which is the later enactment will operate to repeal the prior statute to the extent of any conflict in their terms.  Thus, we conclude that the legislature in enacting chapter 84, Laws of 1953, placed diking and drainage districts in the same category as irrigation districts, port districts and public utility districts with respect to elections.  That is to say, they are outside the scope of RCW 29.13.020 with respect to the time of holding elections and thus, by the terms of RCW 29.04.020 and RCW 29.13.040, outside the jurisdiction of the county auditor with respect to the conduct of such elections.

Very truly yours,

DON EASTVOLD
Attorney General


ANDY ENGEBRETSEN
Assistant Attorney General

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