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AGO 1951 No. 191 - December 12, 1951
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Smith Troy | 1941-1952 | Attorney General of Washington

CLOSING REGISTRATION BOOKS PRIOR TO CITY ELECTION.

The thirtieth day preceding a city election is the first day upon which registration books are required to be closed, against original registrations.  Transfers of registrations may occur for fifteen days thereafter, but if the fifteenth day falls upon a Saturday when city offices are closed, the last day for such transfers as a practical matter is the preceding Friday.

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                                                               December 12, 1951

Honorable Earl Coe
Secretary of State
Legislative Building
Olympia, Washington                                                                                              Cite as:  AGO 51-53 No. 191

Dear Sir:

            Receipt is acknowledged of your letter of November 20, 1951, in which you request our opinion as to the last day for prospective voters to register prior to the primary to be held in cities on Monday, February 11, 1952, in the event the offices of the city clerk should be closed on January 12, 1952.  Also, you ask the same question with regard to the last day that voters may transfer their registration prior to the city primary if the office of the city clerk is closed on Saturday, January 26, 1952.

            It is our conclusion that the last day upon which original registrations may be accomplished prior to the February 11, 1952, municipal election, will be Friday, January 11, and the last day upon which transfers of registrations practicably may be accomplished will be Friday, January 25, 1952.

                                                                     ANALYSIS

            Section 9, chapter 1, Laws of 1933, as amended by § 2, chapter 68, Laws of 1947 (§ 5114-9 Rem. Supp. 1947) provides:

             [[Orig. Op. Page 2]]

            "The registration files of all precincts shall be closed against original registration or transfer for thirty (30) days immediately preceding every election and primary to be held in such precincts, respectively, but they shall remain open for an additional fifteen (15) days for transfers of registration from one precinct within a city to another precinct in the same city and for transfers of registration from one rural precinct to another rural precinct in the same county.  The county auditor shall give notice of the closing of said files for original registration and transfer by one publication in a newspaper of general circulation in such county at least five (5) days before such closing."

            It will be noted that for original registrations the requirement of the statute is that the files beclosed for thirty days.  In counting off thirty days, excluding the date of election and counting backward as our Supreme Court indicated is the proper way to make such computations(State ex rel. Early v. Batchelor, 15 Wn. (2d) 149, 130 P. (2d) 72), it will be found that the count ends on Saturday, January 12, 1952.  Thus, Saturday, January 12, 1952, being the thirtieth day, is the first day upon which the files are required to be closed.  Thus, Friday, January 11, is the last day upon which the files should be open for original registrations.  The fact that offices may be closed upon Saturday will, therefore, have no bearing upon closing the files against original registrations in this instance.

            With respect to transfers of registrations, however, the situation is somewhat different.  The statute provides that registration files of all precincts "* * * shall remain open for an additional fifteen days * * *."  This additional fifteen days must, thus, be reckoned forward from the date of closing against the original registrations, rather than backward from the election day.  Thus, the last day for original registrations being Friday, January 12, counting forward for fifteen additional days the count terminates on Saturday, January 26.

            The legislature, by § 2, chapter 100, Laws of 1951, prescribed that

            "All city and town offices shall be kept open for the transaction of business during such hours as the municipal legislative authority shall by ordinance prescribe."

             [[Orig. Op. Page 3]]

            Many of the cities have enacted ordinances providing for the closing of all city offices on Saturdays.  This is not a case where the last day of a computation of time falls upon a holiday since Saturday is nowhere designated as a legal holiday.  Section 6, chapter 1, Laws of 1933, as last amended by § 1, chapter 68, Laws of 1947 (Rem. 1947 Supp. § 5114-6) provides in part:

            "Registration officers in incorporated cities and towns shall keep their respective offices open for registration of voters during the days and hours when the same are open for the transaction of public business:  * * *"

            There is thus no statutory requirement that the clerks' offices be kept open at any times other than their normal business hours for registration purposes.

            In computations of time it is not customary to eliminate non-business [[nonbusiness]]days or even holidays except when they fall within the express terms of a statute calling for their elimination.  Thus, our Supreme Court in the case ofMartin v. Sunset Telephone and Telegraph Company, 18 Wash. 260, held that where a certain notice had to be given within a prescribed number of days, the fact that a Sunday occurred within the period did not extend the time for giving the notice.  The court said:

            "* * * The further contention of respondent that an intervening Sunday should be excluded from the computation we think is also without merit.  The statute provides that if the last day falls on Sunday it shall be excluded.  There is no provision for excluding intervening Sundays, and if it had been the intention of the law to exclude intervening Sundays it would have been expressed, as was the intention to exclude Sundays when the last day fell on Sunday.  * * *"

            The method of computing time is stated in § 150 Rem. Rev. Stat. (Laws of 1888, page 32) as follows:

            "The time within which an act is to be done, as herein provided, shall be computed by excluding the first day and including the last, unless the last day is a holiday or Sunday, and then it is also excluded."

             [[Orig. Op. Page 4]]

            In the present case, since the last day is neither a holiday nor a Sunday, there is no occasion for excluding it and the effect is exactly the same as though the non-business [[nonbusiness]]day had fallen at an intervening time in the period rather than at the end.  Thus, it is counted as one of the fifteen days and the period is not extended because it is a non-business [[nonbusiness]]day.  As a practical matter then, the preceding Friday is the last day upon which registration transfers may be accomplished.  In this case the last day for such transfers will be Friday, January 25. Very truly yours,

SMITH TROY
Attorney General

LYLE L. IVERSEN
Assistant Attorney General

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