County and Home-Charter Rule
Article 11, section 5 of the Washington Constitution makes the commission form the standard form of county government throughout the state for counties that do not adopt a home rule charter and sets forth, in general terms, the governmental structure that all commission counties must have. Of Washington’s 39 counties, 32 “noncharter” counties operate under the commission form of government provided by state law. Essentially, the majortiy of counties operate with three county commissioners managing the county!
The state constitution was amended in 1948 to provide the option for counties to adopt “home rule” charters to provide their own form of government that may be different from the commission form prescribed by state law. Home rule charters can provide for any county officers deemed necessary to perform county functions, but they cannot affect the election of the prosecuting attorney, the county superintendent of schools, the judges of the superior court, and the justices of the peace, or the jurisdiction of the courts. As outlined in the constitution, the charter process involves electing a group of 15-25 freeholders who are responsible for developing a proposed charter that is voted on by the electorate.