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Residency Requirement Dropped from Election Code

By Joe Morey News Editor


The residency requirement of the Election Code of the Tribal Code of Law for Lac Courte Oreilles has been removed from the current code by vote of the LCO Tribal Governing Board on Monday, April 1. The change will take effect for this year’s election process beginning on Saturday, April 13, at the Tribal Caucus. All other parts of the Election Code will remain in effect.


The residency requirement simply stated any person whose name will appear on the ballot for any tribal election must reside within the Tribe’s established Service Area. Many questions arose on what determined the Service Area and how far it was exactly outside the tribal boundaries.

LCO Chairman Louis Taylor said he raised the question of removing other prerequisites established by the previous administration for the 2017 elections, but only one other council member supported it. The other prerequisites included any candidate for tribal governing board must first pay $200 to be placed on the ballot and submit to a comprehensive background check and drug testing prior to their name being placed on the ballot.


The Tribal Caucus is set for Saturday, April 13, at 9:00 am, whereby any tribal member may nominate any tribal member to be a candidate for four seats on the tribal governing board.

The nominated candidate must first sign the acceptance of the nomination in writing within 10 days of the nomination and provide verification that they have satisfied the prerequisites.

The Election Code states that within 72 hours of the close of the 10 days within the Caucus, all candidates must be notified by the Election Committee whether they have qualified to run for tribal governing board.


The prerequisites, excluding the residency clause, include five other clauses listed as follows;


The first states all candidates must be a member of the tribe.


The second states all candidates must have attained the age of 21 on the date of the election.


The third prerequisite states, “The prospective candidate shall provide consent for the completion of a comprehensive background check within seven working days of the day of caucus. If a comprehensive background check establishes that a prospective candidate has plead guilty, no contest or been found guilty in any tribal, county, district, state or federal court of any felony or other serious offense including: bribery, embezzlement, extortion, fraud, perjury, theft, deceit, dishonesty, or misappropriation of funds, the Election Committee shall establish that he perspective candidate thereby fails to pass the background check.”


The Election Code goes on to say any candidate who fails the background check may get a waiver and still be placed on the ballot if the violation or offense occurred at least 15 years prior to the nomination.


The next prerequisite requires all candidates to pay $200 to offset the costs of the election.

And the final prerequisite states candidates must undergo testing at the LCO Health Center at the times established for candidate testing for illegal drugs and prescribed medication for which they do not have a valid prescription.


“A prospective candidate who tests positive (upon completion of a confirmation test) for illegal drugs and/or prescription medication for which they do not have a valid prescription, shall be prohibited from being placed on the ballot for election,” the Election Code stated. “A prospective candidate who declines a drug test shall be prohibited from being placed on the ballot for election.”


Taylor said he ran for tribal governing board in 2015 promising to check into the new requirements to run for a seat on the Tribal Council.

“I don’t believe we should put any restrictions on our people who choose to run for tribal council. It’s up to the voters to decide,” Taylor said.


Taylor also doesn’t support incumbent candidates choosing poll observers. The Current Election Code establishes that each tribal governing board incumbent chooses one poll observer, but no other candidates for council have this same privilege.


The Election Committee is also chosen at the Tribal Caucus. Members in attendance openly nominate persons to be on the committee and then a secret ballot vote is taken to choose six from the nominated persons to serve on the committee with a designated member from the Citizenship Services Department (Enrollment Clerk.)


If the Election Committee notifies any candidate that they do not meet the prerequisites, the candidate has 24 hours to file an appeal with the LCO Tribal Court in a statement setting forth the grounds for and evidence supporting the challenge(s) along with the established court filing fee.


“The Tribal Court shall provide for a hearing and render a decision within 24 hours of the appeal. The decision of the tribal court shall be final and not subject to further appeal,” the Election Code stated.


LCO Secretary-Treasurer Jason Weaver said the consensus of the tribal council members who opposed removing the prerequisites believe the felony conviction issue is in the code because, “We as tribal council have to work with the state and federal governments. Sometimes this prescreening requirement is needed to enter secure points of entry at the various places officials meet. Council also has to be bonded, insured and sign as fiduciary agent's for grants and bank accounts. The Tribe might not receive grants or be able to sign checks if they had a felony conviction of fraud or theft in these positions.”


Weaver also said the cost of the drug test and background checks is expensive and the $200 fee covers a lot of these costs.


“The Tribal members benefit by knowing that candidates are screened and tested prior to election,” Weaver said.


TGB Member Don Carley said he supported removing the residency clause and he also supports removing the $200 fee.


The Primary Election is set for Saturday, May 11, at which time the field of candidates will be narrowed down to eight vying for the four open seats. The General Election will take place on June 22, 2019.