Tribal Government & News

1,090 register to vote in March 14 constitutional election

02.12.2015 Dean Rhodes Elections

By Dean Rhodes

Smoke Signals editor

Of 3,945 potential Tribal voters in the March 14 constitutional election, 27.6 percent – 1,090 – registered with the Bureau of Indian Affairs by the Feb. 6 deadline.

For the two amendments to pass, 30 percent of those registered – 327 – must cast a ballot and two-thirds of those who vote must approve the measures.

The first proposed amendment would remove the BIA’s role regarding Tribal constitutional elections. Currently, the Tribe is required to hold a federal election, Tribal members must specially register for such elections and even if approved by Tribal members, amendments to the Tribal Constitution need BIA approval before they become effective.

The second proposed amendment would institute a limit of three consecutive terms on future Tribal Council service. After three consecutive terms – nine years – a Tribal Council member would have to take a year off before being eligible to run again. The term limits, if approved, would not be retroactive and would not affect current Tribal Council members who have already served three or more terms.

In a September 2010 non-binding survey, Tribal members overwhelmingly endorsed the concept of term limits, with 701 saying they liked the idea and 229 saying they didn’t, for a 75.5 percent approval. Almost 61 percent of those responding to the survey said they favored two terms as the limit for Tribal Council service while a combined 93 percent favored a maximum of three terms or less as the limit.

In the last BIA constitutional election held in June 2012 regarding the creation of a primary process in Tribal elections, 1,108 Tribal members registered to vote for a 28.6 percent registration turnout of eligible Tribal voters. Of the 1,108 who registered, 630, or 56.8 percent, eventually voted.

Tribal voters endorsed the primary election idea 408-222, but it fell 2 percentage points shy of the two-thirds approval required to amend the Tribal Constitution.

An educational session regarding the March 14 Tribal Constitution election will be held during the Sunday, March 1, General Council meeting held in the Tribal Community Center.

The educational session will follow the scheduled economic development presentation.

Tribal members who cannot attend the March 1 General Council meeting can e-mail questions about the two proposed amendments to Tribal Council Chief of Staff Stacia Martin at