Board of Registration Com'Rs. v. Campbell

Citation251 Ky. 597
PartiesBoard of Registration Com'rs et al. v. Campbell. Campbell v. Board of Registration Com'rs et al.
Decision Date12 December 1933
CourtUnited States State Supreme Court — District of Kentucky

3. Constitutional Law. — Petition of Democratic aldermanic candidate and voter for declaration of rights as affected by interpretation of Model Registration Act by board held to present justiciable, not merely political, questions (Acts 1930, c. 48).

4. Constitutional Law. — If administrative state agency, in interpretation and administration of statute, violates constitutional or statutory rights of citizen, taxpayer, and voter, he may invoke judicial relief (Constitution, sec. 126; Civil Code of Practice, sec. 474).

5. Constitutional Law. Circuit court has superintending control over state agency in interpretation and administration of statute (Constitution, sec. 126; Civil Code of Practice, sec. 474).

6. Elections. Section requiring liberal construction of Model Registration Act held not to authorize board to disregard any part of act (Acts 1930, c. 48, sec. 32).

7. Elections. — Every part of Model Registration Act must be interpreted and administered by board to promote orderly functions of board and carry out purpose of act (Acts 1930, c. 48, sec. 32).

8. Elections. Section of Model Registration Act requiring liberal construction held not to preclude ordinary interpretation authorized by whole act, giving effect to every part (Acts 1930, c. 48, sec. 32).

9. Elections. — Dominant purpose of Model Registration Act for firstclass cities is to prevent fraud (Acts 1930, c. 48).

Dominant purpose of enactment of Acts 1930, c. 48, was to provide perfect system preventing fraudulent registration of illegal voters, fraudulent manipulation of transfers of registration records from one precinct to another, and use thereof in fraudulently voting illegal voters.

10. Elections. "Registration" is method of proof by public record for ascertaining and identifying electors residing in each precinct qualified to cast votes in election of each year and is part of election machinery (Acts 1930, c. 48).

11. Elections. — Registration officers are agents of state, not of political party, city authorities, or applicant for registration (Acts 1930, c. 48).

12. Elections. — Duties of registration board relating to ascertainment of right to register or change registration record to another precinct are mandatory and cannot be delegated (Acts 1930, c. 48).

13. Elections. — Under statute requiring voter's protest against proposed cancellation of registration to be "filed," protest must be in writing (Acts 1930, c. 48, sec. 24).

14. Elections. — Registration board, in its discretion, may require voter, protesting against proposed cancellation of registration, to swear to protest (Acts 1930, c. 48, secs. 9, 24).

15. Elections. — Right of appeal from action of registration board is purely statutory (Acts 1930, c. 48, sec. 25).

16. Elections. — Under statute limiting right of appeal from action of registration board to challenged voter and challenger, only they may appeal (Acts 1930, c. 48, sec. 25).

17. Elections. — Notice of appeal from action of registration board need be given only to registration board, not party committees (Acts 1930, c. 48, sec. 25).

18. Elections. — In determniing whether person is domiciled within city, within purview of Model Registration Act for first-class cities, board should follow general election law (Acts 1930, c. 48; Ky. Stats., sec. 1478).

19. Elections. — General election law prescribing standard for determining voter's residence held consistent with Model Registration Law for first-class cities and should guide board in determining residence of applicant for registration or transfer of registration record from one precinct to another (Acts 1930, c. 48, sec. 24; Ky. Stats., sec. 1480).

20. Elections. — Between date of application for transfer of registration record to another precinct and actual transfer, manner and place of keeping registration record so as to avoid confusion is within board's discretion (Acts 1930, c. 48, sec. 24).

21. Elections. — Between date of application for transfer of registration record to another precinct and actual transfer, board should, by some system, prevent improper use of particular record (Acts 1930, c. 48, sec. 24).

In enacting Acts 1930, c. 48, sec. 24, Legislature intended that board, during such interim, should withdrawn from its records the registration record involved and assure, by some method, that before completion of transfer record cannot, by oversight or mistake of employees, or board itself, or by stealth or otherwise, be used by voter or another for purpose of voting at election.

22. Elections. — Keeping registration record in "suspended file" between date of application for transfer of such record to district to which elector removed and actual transfer held within board's discretion, and not inconsistent with statute (Acts 1930, c. 48, sec. 24).

23. Elections. — Provision requiring board to investigate before holding hearing on challenged registration must be read in light of other sections directing investigations (Acts 1930, c. 48, sec. 24 [e]).

24. Elections. — Board must make independent investigation of each challenged registration between date of service of notice on voter and date of hearing (Acts 1930, c. 48, sec. 24 [e]).

25. Elections. — Board's investigation of challenged registration must be made through the investigators, and in manner, required by statutory subsection governing annual canvass for purpose of checking registration records (Acts 1930, c. 48, sec. 24 [d, e]).

26. Elections. — Board should require investigators to make written report of investigation of registration challenge within reasonable time preceding hearing of grounds of each challenge (Acts 1930, c. 48, sec. 24 [d, e]).

27. Elections. — Where investigators agree that challenged voter is duly qualified elector and properly registered, board should regard voter as challenged without cause `Acts 1930, c. 48, sec. 24 [d, e]).

28. Elections. — If investigators agree that challenged voter is qualified, registered elector, but has moved from precinct to another precinct, board should regard challenge as made without cause, and proceed to transfer registration record to proper precinct (Acts 1930, c. 48, sec. 24 [c-e])

29. Elections. — If investigators agree that challenged voter is not entitled to register or have registration record transferred to another precinct, or disagree as to identity or qualification, and challenged voter after due notice fails to appear at time fixed for hearing, board is without discretion and must immediately cancel registration record (Acts 1930, c. 48, secs. 23, 24 [c-e]).

30. Elections. — Under statute, registration board, in its discretion, may require investigators, investigating challenge of registration, to verify written reports by oath (Acts 1930, c. 48, sec. 24 [d, e]).

31. Elections. — Registration board held not entitled to adopt rules or regulations inconsistent with statute (Acts 1930, c. 48, sec. 4).

32. Elections. — Hearing on challenge of registration record should be conducted with sufficient formality and leisure to afford reasonable opportunity for challenged voter and challenger to present relevant facts (Acts 1930, c. 48, sec. 24 [e]).

33. Abatement and Revival. — Fact that no equitable issues are presented does not render petition filed in equity demurrable, nor constitute ground for abating or dismissing action (Civil Code of Practice, sec. 8).

Appeal from Jefferson Circuit Court

EUGENE R. ATTKISSON for Campbell, Jr.

ROWAN HARDIN for Board of Registration Commissioners.

SHACKELFORD MILLER, Jr., for himself as Chairman, and for Owsley Brown, member of the Democratic City and County Executive Committee.

FRANK M. DRAKE for Harris Coleman.

OPINION OF THE COURT BY JUDGE RICHARDSON.

Affirming in part and reversing in part.

Barney J. Campbell, Jr., as the Democratic candidate for alderman, Twelfth ward, and as a resident, citizen, taxpayer, voter, and qualified elector, of Louisville, Jefferson county, brought this action in the Jefferson circuit court against the board of registration commissioners of the city of Louisville, the Democratic and Republican county executive committees, and the individual members thereof, to have declared his legal rights, as they were affected by the interpretation and execution of the Model Registration Act for Cities of the First Class (Acts 1930, c. 48), by the registration board of commissioners, appointed and acting thereunder.

In his petition Campbell charged that the questions involved were of common and general interest to all the residents and legal voters and Democratic candidates of the city, and that it was impractical to bring all of them before the court within a reasonable time. He sought permission to sue for himself and all other legal voters, and Democratic candidates of the city, under section 25 of the Civil Code of Practice.

The defendants by special demurrer questioned Campbell's right to sue on the ground that the...

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