Several Changes Made to the Election Code for 2021
By Joe Morey
The $200 fee to become a candidate for LCO Tribal Governing Board (TGB) as part 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 TGB. In addition to the removal of the fee, the Board also voted in favor of reimbursing candidates of the previous two elections their $200 fee they were charged.
Another change to the Election Code approved by the TGB establishes that no election signs will be allowed within 150 yards of the polling site on the day of election. The Code states all campaigning materials that were previously posted in or around the polling site by candidates shall be removed by Election Day Workers. The previous rule prohibited signs within 100 yards.
Another prerequisite to running for TGB was to submit to a drug test prior to being placed on the ballot for the Primary Election, but that has now been changed by TGB vote to only be a prerequisite for the candidates who advance from the Primary Election to the General Election. Any candidate being placed on the General Election ballot will now be required to submit to a drug test.
The Election Code 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.”
The Code states the next highest vote getter will be placed on the ballot to replace the person who failed the drug test or refused the drug test.
And the final change to the prerequisites for candidates was to the background check, which will still be in place, but wording has been changed. The Election Code now states “The prospective candidate shall provide consent for the completion of a comprehensive background check within three (3) working days of the day of Caucus. If a comprehensive background check establishes that a prospective candidate has a record of a conviction of election fraud (or other similar classification substantially corresponding to election fraud) or a felony of any crime in any tribal, county, district, state, or federal court, the Election Committee shall establish that the prospective candidate thereby fails to pass the background check. A prospective candidate that fails to pass the background check shall be prohibited from being placed on the Primary Ballot, unless:
(i) The Election Committee shall provide the prospective candidate with an Election Background Waiver when the prospective candidate establishes that fifteen years or more has passed since the disposition and punishment (including sentencing and probation) of the felony or other serious offense charge as established in subs. (c), above, that has caused the prospective candidate to fail the background check. Any prospective candidate requesting an Election Background Waiver must complete an “Election Background Waiver Petition” which is attached and incorporated as an Exhibit to this ordinance.”
In the previous Election, the background check would eliminate any candidate for serious offense including: bribery, embezzlement, extortion, fraud, perjury, theft, deceit, dishonesty, or misappropriation of funds. This has been changed to only list non-felonious crimes involving election fraud.
The previous Code also allowed 7 days for background checks, but has now been changed to 3 days.
The only two unchanged perquisites for candidacy to the TGB are the requirements of a candidate being a Tribal Member and to have attained to the age of 21 years on the date of the election.
A new procedure in future elections will be the way observers of polling sites on Election Day will be chosen. In previous elections, the incumbent council members up for re-election have always been able to appoint one observer each.
“I don’t believe that incumbent council members should be choosing the observers,” stated LCO Chairman Louis Taylor who is up for re-election. “I argued that our tribal elections are the people’s elections, not the governments. It’s wrong that other candidates don’t have the privilege of choosing observers. My idea was to have the observers nominated at the Tribal Caucus in April.”
Chairman Taylor also said, “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. I’m pleased that there were at least some changes in the Code that favors the Tribal Member who wishes to be a candidate for TGB.”
The TGB approved changing the Election Code to state observers shall be selected on the day of the Caucus as established pursuant to § 1.501 (4) of this ordinance, by virtue of nominations by the general membership.
The observers for polling sites will now be chosen at the Caucus in the same manner that has always been for choosing the Election Committee. Secretaries shall pass out ballots to all enrolled tribal members present and then those members will write down names to be observers in a total number as is the same number of offices to be filled in the election, i.e. three (3) or four (4). If for any reason the ballot contains more than three (3) or four (4) votes per ballot, the ballot shall be considered “spoiled” and cast out. The ballots shall be collected at each table and then will be counted and cross referenced with the sign-in sheet to estimate numbers. The Ballots shall be tallied and marked on a display chart. The Three (3) or Four (4) top vote getters are seated as Election Observers and the next two high vote getters are designated as alternates.
Although the TGB hasn’t set the dates for the 2021 Election process, The Tribal Caucus normally takes place the second Saturday in April, the Primary Election in mid-May and the General Election within 30 days of the Primary Election sometime in June.
The Code states at the Tribal Caucus 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 3 days of the nomination and provide verification that they have satisfied the prerequisites.
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.)
Those TGB members up for re-election in 2021 include LCO Chairman Louis Taylor, Don Carley and Tweed Shuman. The Primary Election in May will narrow the field to 6 candidates for the June General Election to fill 3 seats.