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AGO 1956 No. 330 - October 17, 1956
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Don Eastvold | 1953-1956 | Attorney General of Washington

ELECTIONS ‑- STICKER CANDIDATES.ELECTIONS ‑- PRIMARY ‑- FILL UNEXPIRED COUNTY OFFICE

In the event a county clerk elected for a term expiring January 1, 1958, dies on August 29, 1956, which date is subsequent to the last day for filing for the September primary, but several candidates for the unexpired term of county clerk run as "sticker candidates", the candidates to represent the respective political parties in the general election may be nominated in the primary by stickers, provided that the specified percentage of votes is cast for them; otherwise, nomination is made by the county central committees for the respective parties.

Special notice is required in the general and primary election held to fill the unexpired term of a superior court clerk.

                                                              - - - - - - - - - - - - -

                                                                October 17, 1956

Honorable John Hancock
Prosecuting Attorney
Okanogan County
Okanogan, Washington

                                                                                                              Cite as:  AGO 55-57 No. 330

Dear Sir:

            In your letter of September 6, 1956, you requested an opinion on the following questions:

            In the event a county clerk elected for a term expiring January 1, 1958, dies on August 29, 1956, which date is subsequent to the last day for filing for the September primary, but several candidates for the unexpired term of county clerk run as "sticker candidates" in the September primary and pay the proper filing fees, are the winning sticker candidates for the respective parties in the primary the proper candidates to represent the respective parties in the general election, or should such candidates for the general election be chosen by the respective county political organizations?

             [[Orig. Op. Page 2]]

            Is any special notice required in the general or primary election held to fill the unexpired term of a superior court clerk?

            We answer your first question by stating that the candidates to represent the respective political parties in the general election may be nominated in the primary by stickers, provided that the specified percentage of votes is cast for them; otherwise, nomination is made by the county central committees for the respective parties.

            We answer your second question in the affirmative.

                                                                     ANALYSIS

            The statutes applicable to the first question are in pertinent part as follows:

            RCW 29.18.030

            "The name of no candidate shall be printed upon the official ballot used at a September primary, unless not earlier than the preceding July 1st nor later than the preceding July 20th, a declaration of candidacy is filed in the form hereinafter set forth, . . ."

            RCW 29.51.170

            "At any election or primary, any voter may write in on the ballot or paste thereto the name of any person for whom he desires to vote for any office and such vote shall be counted the same as if the name had been printed on the ballot and marked by the voter:  Provided, That no person who is nominated at any primary election as a candidate for any public office but who has not previously paid the regular filing fee shall have his name printed on the official ballot for the general election unless, within ten days after the official canvass of the primary vote, he pays the same fee required by law to be paid by candidates for filing a declaration of candidacy for the office for which he has been nominated."

            RCW 29.18.150

            "Should a place on a party ticket be vacant because no person filed for nomination as the candidate of that party at the primary,  [[Orig. Op. Page 3]] or because the person nominated died or declined the nomination before the printing of the ballots or should any certificate of nomination prove to be ineffectual or inoperative, if the vacancy is for a county office, the county central committee may select and certify a candidate to fill the vacancy; . . . the certificate must set forth the cause of the vacancy, the name of the person nominated, the office for which he is nominated and other pertinent information required in an ordinary certificate of nomination and be filed in the proper office.  Within thirty days after the primary, the candidate must pay the candidate's fee applicable to that office and file with the proper officer an affidavit similar to a declaration of candidacy, stating his residence, and that he is eligible to the office he seeks."

            RCW 29.18.110

            "No candidate for a party nomination shall be the party nominee unless he receives a number of votes equal to at least ten percent of the highest number cast for any candidate of his party in the political subdivision in which he is a candidate.

            "Subject thereto, any person who receives a plurality of the votes cast for the candidates of his party for any office shall be his party's nominee for that office."

            RCW 29.04.080

            "The secretary of state shall make rules and regulations not inconsistent with the state, city and town election laws to facilitate the execution of their provisions in an orderly manner and to that end shall assist local election officers by devising uniform forms and procedures."

            The election laws of this state provide three possible methods by which a candidate seeking the party nomination for an office in a partisan primary may secure such nomination:  (1) By a declaration of candidacy under the provisions of RCW 29.18.030; (2) by running as a sticker candidate under RCW 29.51.170; and (3) under certain circumstances, by nomination of the county central committee under the provisions of RCW 29.18.150.

            The first two methods by which the nomination may be obtained are distinct and separate, and the respective statutes upon which they are based are in no way contingent upon each other.  Each method of nomination is a  [[Orig. Op. Page 4]] complete means within itself of obtaining the nomination, providing the required number of votes is obtained.

            The third method of nomination is controlling only if it is not secured under one of the first two methods set out.

            Since the date for declaring candidacy had passed at the time the office of clerk of the superior court became vacant by the death of the incumbent, that method of nomination was nonexistent at the primary.  Since nomination by sticker candidate is a distinct and complete means in itself, that method of nomination for the office of clerk of the superior court in the primary was still open to anyone seeking that office.

            Nomination by sticker candidacy, however, is qualified by the terms of RCW 29.18.110.  The statute has been given the following interpretation by the secretary of state in his capacity as chief election officer of the State of Washington (by the authority vested in his office under RCW 29.04.080):

            "To become a party nominee for a given partisan office, a candidate must not only receive a plurality but the number of votes received must be equal to at least 10% of the number of votes cast for the candidate of his party receiving the greatest number of votes in the political subdivision concerned.  The term 'candidate of his party' means all such party candidates including those seeking Federal, state and county offices."  (Election Rule and Regulation No. 3 adopted by secretary of state August 16, 1954.)

            Thus, in the event the sticker candidate for this unexpired office of clerk of the superior court should receive the plurality of party votes, which number constituted the necessary 10 per cent, then that candidate would be the party nominee in the general election.

            But if the sticker candidates for the respective parties should not receive the necessary 10 per cent, then the third method of nomination would become controlling.  By the terms of RCW 29.18.150 the county central committees for the respective parties would then be authorized to nominate a candidate to run in the general election for the unexpired term.

            The statutes involved in your second question are in pertinent part as follows:

             [[Orig. Op. Page 5]]

            RCW 29.27.080 (1955 Supp.)

            "Notice for any state, county, district, or municipal election, whether special or general, shall be given by at least one 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.  Said legal notice shall contain the title of each office under the proper party designation, the names and addresses of all officers who have been nominated for an office to be voted upon at that election, together with the ballot titles of all measures, the hours during which the polls will be open, and that the election will be held in the regular polling places in each precinct, giving the address of each polling place:  Provided, That the names of all candidates for nonpartisan offices shall be published separately with designation of the offices for which they are candidates but without party designation.  This shall be the only notice required for a state, county, district or municipal general or special election and shall supersede the provisions of any and all other statutes, whether general or special in nature, having different requirements for the giving of notice of any general or special elections."

            RCW 29.01.170

            "'Special election' means any election for electing candidates to public office that is not a general election."

            RCW 29.18.120

            "So far as applicable, the provisions in relation to the holding of elections, the solicitation of voters at the polls, the challenging of voters, the manner of conducting elections, of counting the ballots and making returns and canvass thereof, and all other kindred subjects, including the sale of intoxicating liquors during the hours the polls are open, shall apply to all primaries and the election officers shall have the same powers for primary elections as they have for general elections."

            RCW 29.27.080 (1955 Supp.) by its terms is the controlling statutory authority for election notices.  It provides that it controls special elections as well as general elections.  RCW 29.01.170 is authority for the fact that an election to fill a vacancy is a special election.  RCW 29.18.120, entitled "Procedure at primary‑-General election laws apply," has been  [[Orig. Op. Page 6]] interpreted inState v. Robinson, 69 Wash. 172, as adopting all provisions of the general election statutes which relate to the holding of elections.  Notice requirements, such as those set out in RCW 29.27.080 (1955 Supp.), certainly relate to elections.

            For this reason we are of the opinion that the notice requirements set out in RCW 29.27.080 (1955 Supp.) apply to special elections and also to the primaries which precede them.

            We trust that the foregoing will be of assistance to you.

Very truly yours,


DON EASTVOLD
Attorney General


DOUGLAS HARTWICH
Assistant Attorney General

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