Tribal Government & News

Voter list remains unchanged in Nov. 2 constitutional election

10.20.2022 Dean Rhodes Elections, Tribal Constitution, Disenrollment
The list of Bureau of Indian Affairs registered voters for the Nov. 2 constitutional election hangs on the entrance doors of the Governance Center in Grand Ronde. (Photo by Kamiah Koch/Smoke Signals)


By Dean Rhodes

Smoke Signals editor

If you’re one of the 19 Grand Ronde Tribal members who challenged the voter list for the Nov. 2 constitutional election, you were unsuccessful.

Bureau of Indian Affairs Public Affairs Specialist Robyn Broyles said the voting list remained at the original 858 Tribal members who were listed on Oct. 4.

“The number of registered voters for the Grand Ronde Tribe has not changed,” she said in an e-mail on Thursday, Oct. 20.

About 20 percent of adult Tribal members registered to vote in the Nov. 2 constitutional amendment election that will determine whether to limit future disenrollment proceedings to only cases of fraud and dual enrollment.

According to the voter registration list released by the Bureau of Indian Affairs, 858 Tribal members registered during what Senior Staff Attorney Holly Partridge said was the shortest registration process timeline the Tribe has ever had for a BIA-run election.

During the recent Sept. 10 Tribal Council election, there were approximately 4,400 adult Tribal members.

The number of registered voters is the smallest amount for any constitutional election held by the Tribe. In all of the other seven constitutional elections, more than a 1,000 Tribal members registered, ranging from 1,091 in March 2015 to more than 1,500 in July 2016.

A “unified” Tribal Council approved sending the proposal out to voters during its Aug. 10 meeting and held its first educational meeting regarding the proposal via Facebook Live on Sept. 21. Eight of the nine Tribal Council members appear on the voting list, which is available to review at the Tribal government’s website at Tribal members had until Oct. 7 to challenge the list.

The Nov. 2 election will be the eighth time since 1999 that Tribal voters will be asked to amend the Constitution. Only two proposals out of those previous seven votes that included 11 suggested amendments received the required two-thirds majority to alter the Tribe’s Constitution.

The proposed constitutional amendment would amend Article V, Section 5 to limit involuntary loss of membership to fraud and dual enrollment, and remove the current language regarding loss of membership for failure to meet enrollment criteria.

The proposal comes in reaction to the divisive disenrollment proceedings that occurred in 2015 during which Tribal members were provisionally disenrolled. Eventually, the Tribal Court of Appeals ruled that the Tribal members who were identified for disenrollment because they allegedly did not meet enrollment criteria were to remain in the Tribe because the government had waited too long to start proceedings against them.

Unlike regular Tribal Council elections, a constitutional amendment election is supervised by the Bureau of Indian Affairs, which required Tribal members to register separately to vote. At least 30 percent of those who registered to vote must cast a ballot – 258 of the 858 registered voters -- for the results to count and 66.7 percent of those voting must approve the amendment before it can change the Constitution.

In March 2015, Tribal voters were asked to remove the Bureau of Indian Affairs from supervising Grand Ronde constitutional amendment elections, but the proposal was overwhelmingly rejected with 62.4 percent wanting to retain federal oversight.

Ballots were scheduled to be mailed out by Oct. 10 and must be returned by Nov. 2. There is no in-person voting for a BIA constitutional election.

Tribal Council Chief of Staff Stacia Hernandez said there would be four hybrid in-person/Zoom educational meetings. Remaining sessions will be held at 4 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 20, at the Salem Public Library, 585 Liberty St. S.E., and in Tribal Council Chambers in Grand Ronde at 5:30 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 26.

For more information, visit the Tribal government’s website at or contact Tribal Council Chief of Staff Stacia Hernandez at