Tribal Government & News

Tribal voters approve primary election by too small a margin

06.27.2012 Ron Karten Tribal Council, Elections

Tribal voters approved a primary election amendment to the Tribal Constitution on June 13, but it fell 13 votes short of the required two-thirds approval to institute the measure.

In certified election results released Wednesday, June 20, 407 Tribal voters favored a primary election and 222 opposed it for a 64.7 percent approval rate - 2 percentage points short.

To change the Tribal Constitution, at least 30 percent of those registered to vote must cast ballots and then 66.7 percent of those voting must approve of an amendment for it to take effect.

According to the Bureau of Indian Affairs, 1,108 Grand Ronde Tribal members registered to vote in the special election for an approximately 28.6 percent registration turnout of eligible Tribal voters.

Of those who registered, 629, or 56.8 percent, voted. To pass with that voter turnout, 420 yes votes were needed.

Tribal Council voted in January to send the primary election idea to voters. If the amendment had been approved, starting in 2013 the field of Tribal Council candidates would have been pared to six candidates through a primary election if 10 or more Tribal members were nominated in June.

In a 2010 non-binding survey, Tribal members supported a primary election process 584-366, or 61.4 percent in favor of the idea.

Recent Tribal Council elections have consistently seen more than 10 or more Tribal members nominated. With so many candidates on the September general election ballot, those elected to three-year Tribal Council terms customarily receive less than 20 percent of the total vote.