North Carolina Department of Justice
North Carolina Department of Justice
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November 3, 1999

Mr. William R. Gilkeson, Jr. Staff Attorney, Research Division Legislative Services Office, North Carolina General Assembly Suite 545, LOB, 300 N. Salisbury St. Raleigh, N.C. 27603-5925

Re: Advisory Opinion; Age Requirement for N.C. House of Representatives; N.C. CONST. Art. II, § 7 & Art. VI, § 1 and 6

Dear Mr. Gilkeson:

You have requested on behalf of a legislator an advisory opinion on the minimum age a person must attain before he or she may be elected to the North Carolina House of Representatives. You ask that we assume a person will be 17 years old at the time for filing for the House of Representatives but will be 18 years old by the general election in November, 2000. The question is whether this person is eligible to file for office. We conclude that a person must be 21 years old by the date of the general election in order to be elected to the House of Representatives.

Several provisions of the North Carolina Constitution are pertinent to this question. Article II, Section 7, provides:

Each Representative, at the time of his election, shall be a qualified voter of the State, and shall have resided in the district for which he is chosen for one year immediately preceding his election.

Article VI, Section 1, provides with respect to eligibility to vote:

Every person born in the United States and every person who has been naturalized, 18 years of age, and possessing the qualifications set out in this Article, shall be entitled to vote at any election by the people of the State, except as herein otherwise provided.

Article VI, Section 6, addresses eligibility to elective office generally. It provides:

Every qualified voter in North Carolina who is 21 years of age, except as in Mr. William R. Gilkeson, Jr. November 3, 1999 Page 2

this Constitution disqualified, shall be eligible for election by the people to


Finally, Article II, Section 20, provides in pertinent part that “[e]ach house shall be judge of the qualifications and elections of its own members.”

In construing constitutional provisions, it is essential to look at related constitutional provisions together in order to give effect to the will of the people, as expressed in those constitutional provisions. See Thomas v. Board of Elections, 256 N.C. 401, 124 S.E.2d 164 (1962). This is in accord with the general rule of statutory construction that statutes relating to the same subject should be construed in such a way as to give effect, if possible, to all provisions without destroying the meaning of the statutes involved. See, e.g., Williams v. Williams, 299 N.C. 174, 261 S.E.2d 849 (1980); Carolina Truck & Body Co. v. General Motors Corp., 102 N.C. App. 262, 402 S.E.2d 135, cert. denied, 329 N.C. 266, 407 S.E.2d 831 (1991).

Article II, Section 7, and Article VI, Sections 1 and 6, all relate to the qualifications to serve in the House of Representatives. The reading that gives effect to all of these provisions is that a person must meet three requirements in order to serve as a member of the House of Representatives: (1) be a qualified voter; (2) reside in the district for at least a year preceding the general election; and

(3) attain the age of 21 by the time of the general election.

We note that under Article II, Section 20, the ultimate decision regarding the “qualifications and elections” of members of the House of Representatives must be entrusted to the House itself. See State ex rel Alexander v. Pharr, 179 N.C. 699, 103 S.E. 8 (1920) (courts have no jurisdiction to try title to a seat in the General Assembly).


Ann Reed Senior Deputy Attorney General

Susan K. Nichols Special Deputy Attorney General