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AGO 1951 No. 201 - December 28, 1951
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Smith Troy | 1941-1952 | Attorney General of Washington

PUBLICATION OF ELECTION NOTICE BY RADIO BROADCAST.

Notice of primary or general elections may be broadcast by radio during the period of not more than ten nor less than three days preceding the election as many times as in the judgment of the election officials will best serve the public interest.

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                                                               December 28, 1951

Honorable Earl Coe
Secretary of State
Olympia, Washington                                                                                               Cite as:  AGO 51-53 No. 201

Dear Sir:

            Receipt is acknowledged of your letter of December 21, 1951, in which you ask our opinion as to the number of times a legal notice relative to primary and general elections may be broadcast by radio pursuant to chapter 119, Laws of 1951, in the event the proper local election official shall cause only one publication to be made by newspaper.

            It is our conclusion that such notice may be broadcast as many times as shall be reasonably necessary to serve the public interest within a period of not more than ten and not less than three days prior to the primary or general election.

                                                                     ANALYSIS

            Section 1, chapter 119, Laws of 1951, reads as follows:

            "Any official of the state or any of its political subdivisions who is required by law to publish any notice required by law may supplement publication thereof by radio broadcast when, in his judgment, the public interest will be served  [[Orig. Op. Page 2]] thereby:  Provided, That such supplemental notice is restricted to spot announcements not to exceed in total number the number of publications now required by law for newspaper publications of the same:  Provided further, That the time, place and nature of such notice only be read with no reference to any person by name then a candidate for political office, and that such announcements shall be made only by duly employed personnel of the station from which such broadcast emanates, and that announcements by political subdivisions may be made only by stations situated within the county of origin of the legal notice."  (Emphasis supplied)

            The underscored language in the above quotation limits the number of announcements to the number of publications required by law for newspaper publication of the notice.  Newspaper publication of notice of primary elections is prescribed in § 8, chapter 209, Laws of 1907, as last amended by § 10, chapter 161, Laws of 1949 (§ 5185 Rem. Supp. 1949), the pertinent part of which reads as follows:

            "Notice of any primary election shall be given by publication not more than ten (10) nor less than three (3) days prior to the primary election by the County Auditor or City Clerk as the case may be, in one or more newspapers of general circulation within the county.  * * *"

            Section 11, chapter 161, Laws of 1949 (§ 5148-3a Rem. Supp. 1949), as last amended by § 7, chapter 101, Laws of 1951, prescribes the manner of giving notice of general elections as follows:

            "Notice for any state, county, district, or municipal election, whether special or general, shall be given by publication not more than ten nor less than three days prior to the election by the county auditor or the officer conducting the election as the case may be, in one or more newspapers of general circulation within the county.  * * *"

             [[Orig. Op. Page 3]]

            It will be seen that the requirements for newspaper publication are identical for primary and general elections.  This statute, unlike many others relating to publication of notices does not specify the number of times the notice shall be published.  The requirement that it appear in one or more newspapers obviously leaves to the discretion of the proper election officials the determination of how many newspaper media shall be employed.  There is no specification of the number of days upon which it must appear in the newspapers, the requirement simply being that it be published not more than ten nor less than three days prior to the election.  This might be accomplished by one publication or it might be accomplished by daily publications, or by publications in one newspaper or several.

            We believe that the obvious import of these statutes is that the notice is required to be published during the period specified in such number of newspapers and for such number of times as the responsible election officials shall, in their discretion, find will best give notice of the election and serve the public interest.

            If the same criterion is applied to the number of broadcast announcements permitted under § 2, chapter 119, Laws of 1951, the only limitation is the number which will best serve the public interest.  The statute relative to the broadcast of such notices does not limit the number of announcements to the number of newspaper publications actually had, but the test is the number of publications required by law.  If the test of the number of newspaper publications required by law be the number that will best give notice of the election and serve the public interest and the same test is used for the number of radio broadcasts, the different nature of the media may well result in the number of broadcasts being different from the number of actual newspaper publications.

            It is our opinion that notice of elections may be broadcast within the period of not more than ten nor less than three days preceding the election for such number of times as the responsible election officials shall find will best serve the public interest.

Very truly yours,

SMITH TROY
Attorney General

LYLE L. IVERSEN
Assistant Attorney General

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