Washington State

Office of the Attorney General

Attorney General

Bob Ferguson

AGO 1955 No. 205 -
Attorney General Don Eastvold


RCW 29.21.060 controls time for filing and withdrawing declaration of candidacy in second and third class school districts.

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                                                                February 16, 1954

Honorable Phillip Sheridan,Prosecuting Attorney
Snohomish County
Court House
Everett, Washington                                                                                                    Cite as:  AGO 53-55 No. 205

Attention:  Mr. C. P. Brownlee, Deputy

Dear Sir:

            By letter as previously acknowledged you have requested the opinion of this office upon a question which may be paraphrased as follows: Is RCW 28.63.260 or RCW 29.21.060 controlling as to the time for filing and withdrawing declarations of candidacy for elections in school districts of the second and third class?

            It is our opinion that RCW 29.21.060 is controlling in this respect.


            Although your request refers to "RCW 28.26.260" we have assumed that the statute in question is RCW 28.63.260, since there is no code section bearing the number cited by you.  RCW 28.63.260 provides, in relevant part:

            "* * * Official ballots of white paper of uniform size and quality shall be provided by the board of directors and shall contain the names of all candidates who have filed with the district clerk not less than ten  [[Orig. Op. Page 2]]days before the day of election a notice of their candidacy.  Each person filing his name with the clerk shall designate the position for which he is a candidate.  The names of no other candidates for school directors shall appear upon said official ballots and no other ballots shall be received or counted:  Provided, That nothing herein contained shall prevent any voter from voting for any other person for such position by sticker or by writing in the name of such other person.  * * *"  (Italics supplied)

            The portion of the statute pertinent here was added by § 1, chapter 50, Laws of 1933.  It has not been directly amended or construed by the courts since that time.

            RCW 29.21.060 provides in relevant part:

            "All candidates for district offices, other than in irrigation districts,shall file declarations of candidacy not more than sixty nor less than forty-five days prior to the date of the election with the officer or board charged with the conduct of the election: * * * Any candidate may withdraw his declaration at any time within five days after the last day allowed for filing declarations of candidacy."  (Italics supplied)

            The quoted portion of this statute, without the exception as to irrigation districts, first appeared in § 6, chapter 161, Laws of 1949, and was reenacted with additions not pertinent here as § 5, chapter 101, Laws of 1951.  Chapter 161 contained no repealing clause, and chapter 101 repealed only specific statutes, without a general repeal of acts in conflict.  RCW 28.63.260 has never been repealed specifically.

            Section 6, chapter 161, Laws of 1949, was derived by amendment from § 3, chapter 234, Laws of 1947.  Section 3 could not have applied at that time to second and third class school districts, because the only provision applicable to political subdivisions other than cities referred to nominating petitions (not required in such districts), and because § 4 of chapter 234, possibly in an excess of caution, specifically exempted such districts from the operation of a provision dependent upon § 3.

             [[Orig. Op. Page 3]]

            Section 3, chapter 234, Laws of 1947, was in turn derived by amendment from § 5, chapter 194, Laws of 1945 (which was specifically repealed by chapter 182, Laws of 1947, so that chapter 234 stood as an original enactment:  see attached opinion of August 29, 1947, to the Secretary of State).  In several opinions, our office held that § 3 of chapter 194 made the county election board responsible for elections in second and third class school districts.  See attached opinion to the Prosecuting Attorney, Spokane County, on December 18, 1945, and also opinions to Prosecuting Attorneys of Yakima County, on August 3, 1945, and Spokane County on February 16, 1946.  The latter opinion, however, also states that chapter 194 did not affect the dates or hours of elections in such districts, and that it did not affect RCW 28.63.260 (then RRS § 5024).  Chapter 182, Laws of 1947, by repealing chapter 194 and specifically excluding such districts from the operation of its positive provisions, makes it clear, in conjunction with the exclusion in § 4, chapter 234, Laws of 1947, supra, that RCW 28.63.260 was effective at least until 1949.

            Chapter 161, Laws of 1949, was a general statute dealing with certain phases of elections.  Chapter 101, Laws of 1951, was also a general statute with precisely the same effect, for present purposes, as chapter 161.  Chapter 50, Laws of 1933 (RCW 28.63.260), was a specific statute dealing with one phase of election procedure in second and third class school districts.

            Our courts have not laid down any absolute test by which it may be determined whether or not an earlier specific statute is superseded by a later general statute.  There is a presumption against such a result.  State ex rel. Johnson v. Clausen, 51 Wash. 548; Erickson v. Perica, 113 Wash. 510; State ex rel. Allen v. Public Service Commission, 111 Wash. 294;State v. Becker, 39 Wn. (2d) 94;   Rosenthal v. Tacoma, 31 Wn. (2d) 32.  General rules may be distilled from these cases, and those cited therein.  As to an implied repeal of an act, those rules are summarized in the Rosenthal case, supra, at pp. 36 and 37 of 31 Wn. (2d).

            There is also authority for the proposition that where the legislature clearly intended to provide a uniform statewide system in a particular field, previous specific acts are superseded where they would otherwise conflict with the later law, although not specifically amended or repealed.  SeeGreat Northern Railway Co. v. Glover, 194 Wash. 146.  InState ex rel. Whatcom County v. Purdy, 14 Wash. 343, at 346, quoting fromNorthern Pacific R. R. Co. v. Haas, 2 Wash. 379, the court said:

             [[Orig. Op. Page 4]]

            "As a rule, it will not be held that a special act is repealed by implication by a general one upon the same subject.  The intention of the legislature, however, in enacting the several laws, is what is to be arrived at; and, if it sufficiently appears that it was intended that a subsequent general law should supersede all prior legislation upon the same subject, general or special, though not expressly so stated, effect should be given to such purpose."

            See alsoState v. Hewitt Land Co., 74 Wash. 573, and State ex rel. Johnson v. Clausen, supra, in which the court said, at p. 555 of 51 Wash., quoting from Endlich on the Interpretation of Statutes, § 233,

            "'* * * Having already given its attention to the particular subject, and provided for it, the legislature is reasonably presumed not to intend to alter that special provision by a subsequent general enactment,unless that intention is manifested in explicit language, or there be something which shows that the attention of the legislature had been turned to that special act, and that the general one was intended to embrace the special cases within the previous one; or somethingin the nature of the general one making it unlikely that an exception was intended as regards the special act.  * * *'"  (Italics supplied)

            The essential test, as gleaned from the decisions cited, and those to which they refer, appears to be the legislative intent to supersede or leave in force previous conflicting provisions.

            Three cases are somewhat more apposite than the rest, inasmuch as they deal with general and particular election statutes.  InState ex rel. Carpenter v. Superior Court, 118 Wash. 664, the controversy involved a general election law for certain counties and its effect upon the time, place, and manner of holding elections under a previous act expressly controlling school districts of the third class.  At p. 667 of 118 Wash., the court said:

            "The law of 1921 (the general act) was enacted by the legislature of that year, manifestly for the purpose of having all elections in class A counties and  [[Orig. Op. Page 5]] counties of the first class, other than state, county, and certain other specified elections, held under a unified system on the same day of the years within which such elections must be held.  * * *"

            After considerable discussion and examination, the court held that the general statute should prevail.  Virtually the same problem was presented in State ex rel. School District No. 92 of Clark County v. State Finance Committee, 178 Wash. 565, again with reference to elections in second and third class school districts.  Again the general law prevailed over the special statute.  InState ex rel. Wenatchee Etc. District v. Banker, 179 Wash. 343, the opposite conclusion was reached as to an irrigation district election, although theCarpenter and Clark County cases, supra, were approved.  Both theClark County andWenatchee cases were en banc, with widely divided courts.  The general history of those cases and of the legislative enactments they construed is set out in the opinion for the Prosecuting Attorney of Spokane County on December 18, 1945,supra, attached hereto.  We agree with the conclusion expressed therein, as drawn from the Carpenter and Clark County cases, that where the legislature plainly intends to achieve a unified election system to govern school and other district elections, conflicting special provisions of the school district election law will be superseded.

            We think RCW 29.21.060 was quite clearly intended to unify the time for declaration and withdrawal of candidacy in school districts as well as in other districts.  Section 1 of chapter 161, Laws of 1949, lists fourteen kinds of districts, including school districts.  Section 2 thereof specifically mentions school district elections, as does § 9.  Section 6, the declaration and withdrawal section, very obviously applies to school districts in the light of the general intent of the law.

            Chapter 257, Laws of 1951, mentions school district elections, and relates them to Title 29 RCW.  A new section was added to RCW 28.63 by § 1 thereof.  Section 2 specifically placed first class districts under the provisions of RCW 29.21.060.

            Chapter 101, Laws of 1951, §§ 1 and 2, fix the date for all school elections.  Section 1 is virtually the same as was the section quoted by the court in theCarpenter case.  Section 5, containing the declaration and withdrawal provisions, makes only one exception‑-irrigation districts.  Section 4 also makes provisions for school districts.

             [[Orig. Op. Page 6]]

            It might be noted that chapter 111, Laws of 1953, made specific (at the behest of the Code Reviser) changes already effected by implication in RCW 28.63.010, 28.63.230, and 26.63.240; the latter were in each case brought into harmony with general provisions of Title 29 RCW.  They were changed very little beyond the alterations already necessarily implied from the general election statutes.

            We are informed that most second and third class school districts in this state are now following the provisions of RCW 29.21.060.  Probably a certain amount of confusion is inevitable, in the absence of a specific amendment, as the foregoing discussion indicates.  We hope that this opinion will remove that condition.

            We conclude that RCW 29.21.060 is now controlling; as against RCW 28.63.260, with respect to the time for filing and withdrawing declarations of candidacy for elections in second and third class school districts.

Very truly yours,

Attorney General

Assistant Attorney General