1,095 register to vote on primary election amendment
By Dean Rhodes
Smoke Signals editor
Less than 1,100 Tribal members have registered to vote in the upcoming constitutional election that would, if approved, institute a primary process in Tribal elections.
Tribal Election Board Chair Penny DeLoe said 1,095 Tribal members out of 3,879 eligible registered to vote with the Bureau of Indian Affairs for an approximate registration turnout of 28.2 percent.
Tribal Council voted in January to send the primary election idea to voters. If approved, it would start a primary process if more than 10 Tribal members are nominated to run for Tribal Council in June. The primary would pare the nominee list down to six candidates for the September general election.
To amend the Tribal Constitution, at least 30 percent of those registered to vote must cast ballots – 329 in this case – and two-thirds of those voting must approve of the amendment.
In a 2010 non-binding survey, Tribal members who responded supported a primary election process 582-366, or 61.4 percent in favor of the idea.
Recent Tribal Council elections since 2008 have regularly seen 10 or more Tribal members nominated. With so many candidates on the ballot, those elected to three-year Tribal Council terms customarily receive less than 20 percent of the total vote.
Tribal members had until May 9 to register with the BIA to vote in the amendment election. Ballots will be sent to Tribal voters on Friday, May 18, and must be returned to the BIA by Wednesday, June 13.
If approved by Tribal voters, a primary election would start with the 2013 Tribal Council election cycle if more than 10 candidates are nominated.