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AGO 1950 No. 198 - January 19, 1950
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Smith Troy | 1941-1952 | Attorney General of Washington

ELECTIONS -- DRAINAGE DISTRICT -- JURISDICTION TO CONDUCT

County Auditor, as ex-officio supervisor of elections, has sole jurisdiction to conduct drainage district elections in Class A and first class counties.

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                                                                 January 19, 1950

Honorable Earl Coe
Secretary of State
Legislative Building
Olympia, Washington                                                                                                              Cite as:  AGO 49-51 No. 198

Dear Sir:

            You have requested the opinion of this office as to whether a county auditor, as ex-officio county supervisor of elections, has jurisdiction to conduct drainage district elections or whether the duty of conducting such elections is vested with the Board of Drainage District Commissioners.

            It is our opinion that pursuant to chapter 161, Laws of 1949, the county auditor, as ex-officio county supervisor of elections, has exclusive jurisdiction to conduct drainage district elections in Class A and first class counties.

                                                                     ANALYSIS

            Chapter 104, Laws of 1949 [§ 4303 Rem. Supp. 1949] provides in part as follows:

            "A general election for the election of a Board of Drainage Commissioners of such district shall be held upon the second Tuesday in March * * *.  The term of office shall begin on the first Monday of the following April, and such elections shall be conducted by the Board of Drainage Commissioners who shall prepare the ballot therefor, and the expenses thereof shall be defrayed by said district * * *"

            Section 1, chapter 161, Laws of 1949 [§ 5144 Rem. Supp. 1949] provides in part as follows:

             [[Orig. Op. Page 2]]

            "All city, town, * * * drainage district, drainage improvement district * * * and all other municipal and district elections * * * whether general or special, and whether for the election of municipal or district officers * * * shall be held in Class A counties and counties of the first class on the second Tuesday in March * * *"

            Section 5 thereof [§ 5153-1 Rem. Supp. 1949] provides:

            "All elections held under section 1 of this act shall be conducted by the County Auditor as ex-officio County Supervisor of Elections and shall be canvassed by the County Canvassing Board of Election Returns * * *"

            Drainage district elections are scheduled for the same date as general city elections.  It appears that the legislature purported to grant sole jurisdiction in these drainage district elections both to the county auditor under chapter 161, and to the Board of Drainage Commissioners by chapter 104.  The language of these sections does not indicate that the legislature intended that the county auditor and drainage commissioners work in concert in the conduct of such elections; to the contrary, each statute confers complete authority upon the officers designated therein to conduct such elections.  Consequently, we feel that there is a patent inconsistency between chapter 104 and chapter 161, so far as jurisdiction over drainage district elections is concerned; and the question, therefore, becomes: which of the statutes must yield to the extent of the inconsistency?

            The following rule is applicable:

            "* * * When two acts of the same session cannot be harmonized or reconciled, that statute which is the latest enactment will operate to repeal a prior statute of the same session to the extent of any conflict in their terms." 1 Sutherland, Statutory Construction (3rd ed.) § 2020.

            A statute is "passed" when the Governor signs the bill.  The Governor then acts in a legislative capacity and his approval is the last act necessary to make the bill a valid legislative enactment.  1 Sutherland, Statutory Construction (3rd ed.) § 1605.

             [[Orig. Op. Page 3]]

            Which of the acts here considered is the later one so as to prevail?

            "The presumption is that [two acts approved on the same day] were approved in numerical order, but the court will try to ascertain the facts as to the actual order of approval."  1 Sutherland, Statutory Construction (3rd ed.) § 1609.

            We have been unable to ascertain the order in which the Governor signed these two enactments.  However, the public records indicate that chapter 104 was filed with the Secretary of State, after approval by the Governor, at 10:11 A.M. on March 17, 1949, and that chapter 161 was filed fifty-seven minutes later, at 11:08 on the same day.  It seems fair to infer therefrom that the acts were approved by the Governor in the same order in which they were filed.  Since it appears that chapter 161, Laws of 1949 was "passed" subsequent to the time of passage of chapter 104, Laws of 1949, we hold that chapter 104 has been impliedly repealed by chapter 161, to the extent of the conflict between the two enactments; and that, by authority of chapter 161, the county auditor, as ex-officio supervisor of elections, has sole jurisdiction to conduct drainage district elections in Class A and first class counties.

Very truly yours,

SMITH TROY
Attorney General

JOHN D. BLANKINSHIP
Assistant Attorney General

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