Washington State

Office of the Attorney General

Attorney General

Bob Ferguson

AGO 1950 No. 341 - Sep 28 1950
Attorney General Smith Troy


Rem. Rev. Stat. 5274 providing candidate's name may not appear more than once upon the ballot, does not apply where candidate files both for water commissioner and port commissioner, when separate ballots are used for each election, even though said elections are held on general election day.

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                                                              September 28, 1950

Honorable Earl Coe
Secretary of State
Legislative Building
Olympia, Washington                                                                                                              Cite as:  AGO 49-51 No. 341

Dear Sir:

            By letter dated September 19, 1950, you have requested an opinion upon the following question:

            Does the prohibition contained in R.R.S. 5274 providing that no candidate's name shall appear more than once upon the ballot preclude a person from filing his candidacy for the office of water commissioner and the office of port commissioner where both elections are by statute required to be held upon the same day, though separate ballots will be used and each election will be canvassed by different canvassing boards?

            The conclusions reached may be summarized as follows:

            The prohibition contained in section 1, chapter 89, Laws of 1901, p. 186 (Rem. Rev. Stat. 5274) applies only to the general election ballot and thus does not operate to preclude the candidate in question from filing for both offices.

             [[Orig. Op. Page 2]]


            You have informed us that this question has arisen in a county of the fifth class, and while statute provides that in second to ninth class counties both water and port district elections are held on the day of the state general election, it is further provided by law that the board of water commissioners has jurisdiction of water district elections held in second to ninth class counties while the county auditor has jurisdiction of port district elections, irrespective of the class of county.  You further inform us that neither district is county-wide and thus separate ballots must be used.

            The primary purpose of Rem. Rev. Stat. 5274 was to prevent a candidate's name from appearing on the ballot under more than one party designation and this section applies only tothe general election ballot.  Ops. Atty. Gen. 1931-32, p. 287.  See also, State ex rel. Shepard v. Superior Court, 60 Wash. 370, 111 Pac. 233.

            The situation which you have outlined does not present such a problem since in the case of neither of the elections in question is a primary election held, and furthermore, under the circumstances the offices in question must of necessity be placed upon separate ballots.  Thus the mischief designed to be remedied by the statute does not exist and the mere fact that these two elections for candidates for offices in separate and distinct municipal corporations are simultaneously to be held at the time of the general election is not sufficient to bring them within the prohibition of Rem. Rev. Stat. 5274, supra.

            While there may conceivably arise a question of incompatibility should one person be elected to fill both offices, under the facts presented it may not be presumed.

Very truly yours,

Attorney General

Assistant Attorney General