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AGO 1951 No. 115 - August 31, 1951
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Smith Troy | 1941-1952 | Attorney General of Washington

TIME OF SPECIAL ELECTIONS IN TOWNS AND SCHOOL DISTRICTS IN COUNTIES OTHER THAN CLASS A

A city, town or school district in a county other than Class A may hold a special election at any time when its governing board determines that an emergency exists.

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                                                                 August 31, 1951

Honorable Earl Coe
Secretary of State
Legislative Building
Olympia, Washington                                                                                                              Cite as:  AGO 51-53 No. 115

Dear Sir:

            Receipt is acknowledged of your letter of August 22, 1951, in which you inquire whether under section RCW 29.13.030 as amended by chapter 101, Laws of 1951, a special election may be held by a city or town in a county of a class other than Class A at any time providing the governing board declares an emergency.

            It is our conclusion that under RCW 29.13.030 a special election may be held by a city, town or school district in a county other than Class A at any time that its governing board shall determine that an emergency exists requiring such special election.

                                                                     ANALYSIS

            Section 1, chapter 170, Laws of 1921, as last amended by section 2, chapter 101, Laws of 1951 (Rem. Rev. Stat. 5150) is section RCW 29.13.030.  This section reads:

            "All city and town elections, other than in Class A counties, whether general or special, and whether for the election of officers, or for the submission to the voters of such city or town, of any question for their adoption and approval, or rejection, shall  [[Orig. Op. Page 2]] be held on the second Tuesday of March in the year in which they may be called.  All school district elections, other than in Class A whether general or special, and whether for the election of officers, or for the submission to the voters of such district, of any question for their adoption and approval, or rejection, shall be held on the second Tuesday of March in the year in which they may be called:  PROVIDED, That this section shall not be construed as fixing the time for holding the elections for the recall of any city, town or district officers or primary election or special bond election or any election held in a city of the first class for choosing qualified electors to prepare a new charter for such city by altering, changing, revising, adding to or repealing its existing charter, or any election held in any such city for ratifying such new charter.  Whenever in the judgment of the governing board of any such city, town or school district an emergency exists, such board may, by resolution, call a special election at any time in such municipality or district, and at any such special election said governing board may combine, unite or divide precincts for the purpose of holding such special election and every such special election so called shall be conducted and notice thereof given in the manner provided by law.  This and sections 29.13.010 and 29.13.020 are referred to as the consolidated election laws."  (Emphasis supplied)

            It will be noted that this statute prescribes the second Tuesday in March as the normal time for the holding of elections by towns and school districts in counties other than Class A.  However, the legislature has expressly provided authority in the governing board of these municipalities to hold special elections at other times when required by an emergency.  There is no specification in the statute as to the nature of the emergency and the legislature has left the determination of whether an emergency exists to the judgement of the governing board of the municipality.  Under this language it is our opinion that their judgment can be reviewed only when it is exercised arbitrarily or capriciously and is not subject to question under other circumstances.

             [[Orig. Op. Page 3]]

            It is, therefore, our opinion that a special election for any purpose, including the submission of a proposition, can be held at any time provided the governing board of one of the municipalities mentioned in the section determines that an emergency exists.

Very truly yours,

SMITH TROY
Attorney General

LYLE L. IVERSEN
Assistant Attorney General

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