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AGO 1949 No. 146 - October 18, 1949
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Smith Troy | 1941-1952 | Attorney General of Washington

*NEEDS TITLE*

Neither chapter 161, Laws of 1949, nor chapter 182, Laws of 1947, apply to elections in irrigation districts.

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                                                                October 18, 1949

Honorable Earl Coe
Secretary of State
Legislative Building
Olympia, Washington                                                                                                              Cite as:  AGO 49-51 No. 146

Dear Sir:

            We have your letter of October 3, 1949, in which you propound some four separate inquiries, all relating to the effect which chapter 161, Laws of 1949, may have upon elections in irrigation districts.  In view of the attitude which we take upon this question, we are not giving categorical answers to your separate inquiries.

            The conclusions reached may be summarized as follows:

            Neither chapter 161, Laws of 1949, nor chapter 182, Laws of 1947, apply to elections in irrigation districts.

                                                                     ANALYSIS

            The 1945 legislature passed chapter 194, Laws of 1945, relating to elections and voting in counties of the second to ninth classes, inclusive.  On January 21, 1946, we held in an opinion to the Prosecuting Attorney of Douglas County that section 3 of chapter 194 applied to irrigation district elections.  After a more complete study of the question and on March 13, 1946, we reversed such holding and issued an opinion to the Prosecuting Attorney of Douglas County holding that chapter 194, Laws of 1945, did not apply to irrigation district elections, such elections being governed by special election laws.  Section 3, chapter 194,supra, covered the same identical subject matter as did the statute under consideration in the case of State ex rel. Wenatchee Heights Reclamation District v. Banker, 179 Wash. 343, 37 P. (2d) 1115.  The reasoning of such case is summarized in the following quotation:

            "Irrigation district special elections always have been exceptions.  These districts may be created comprising territory in more than one county.  The  [[Orig. Op. Page 2]] right of suffrage in their special elections differs vastly, for one thing, in requiring ownership of land in such district, but not requiring residence therein.  Corporations may vote thereat, through their duly authorized officers, which is not permitted at any other county or municipal election.  There are other differences as to qualifications of voters at such special elections with the qualifications of electors at all other elections, unnecessary to mention.  It is manifest that there are plain and positive distinctions between the election law applying to these cases and that governing the school district case,supra.  * * *"

            The statute under consideration in the Banker case was section 1, chapter 29, Laws of 1933 Ex. Sess.  This section covered the same subject matter as was covered by chapter 180, Laws of 1941; section 3, chapter 194, Laws of 1945; and section 1, chapter 182, Laws of 1947.  We held in our opinion of March 13, 1946, to the Prosecuting Attorney of Douglas County that chapter 194, Laws of 1945, did not apply to irrigation districts.  Section 1, chapter 182, Laws of 1947, covered the same identical subject matter as did section 3, chapter 194, Laws of 1945, with certain specific exemptions.  Irrigation districts are not specifically mentioned in chapter 182, supra.  We hold that chapter 182, Laws of 1947, has no application to irrigation district elections.

            We now come to chapter 161, Laws of 1949.  The term "irrigation district" occurs only in section 1 of said chapter.  The provisions of section 1 in so far as "irrigation districts" are concerned apply only to Class A counties.  King County is the only Class A county.  There are no irrigation districts situated in King County.  "Irrigation districts" are not specifically mentioned in any of the remaining sections, the reference being to "district offices" (section 6), "district officer" (section 9).  "district, * * * general election" (section 11).  There may be some class ofdistricts within the state to which chapter 161 is applicable.  We are not concerned with how many of such "districts," if any, are within the scope of chapter 161.  We are holding thatirrigation district elections are not within the scope of chapter 161. We cannot see any sound reason for including irrigation districts in Class A counties when there is no irrigation district within the only Class A county within the state.  Possibly the words "irrigation district" in section 1 were inadvertently included in section 1.  Nor can we see any sound reason why irrigation district elections in first class counties (see proviso of section 1) should be conducted upon any different basis than are the same type of elections conducted in districts within counties of other classes.

             [[Orig. Op. Page 3]]

            We therefore hold that chapter 161, Laws of 1949, has no application to irrigation district elections.  Nor does chapter 182, Laws of 1947, have any such application.

Very truly yours,

SMITH TROY
Attorney General

GEORGE DOWNER
Assistant Attorney General

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