The Osage people elected four new Congressional members in the 2012 General Election and re-elected two incumbents to serve on the Third ON Congress, according to preliminary results.
In complete, but unofficial results, RJ Walker, John F. Maker, Maria Whitehorn and John Jech were voted in and incumbents Shannon Edwards and Archie Mason were re-elected in the June 4 election.
Walker won the most votes finishing first with 607 votes or 32.8 percent; Maker finished second with 601 votes or 32.5 percent; Mason was third with 587 votes or 31.8 percent; Edwards was fourth with 584 votes or 31.6 percent; Whitehorn was fifth with 506 votes or 27.3 percent; and Jech was sixth with 487 votes or 26.3 percent.
Seven proposed amendments to the Osage Constitution, also on the ballot, failed. The Election Board must certify the results before they are official, but provisional ballots will need to be counted first.
Election Board Chairman Walker Hopper announced the unofficial results at 9:53 p.m., less than two hours after the polls closed. He said provisional ballots would be counted on Wednesday and expected the results to be certified by week’s end.
Scores of Osages and their families gathered around the Congressional chambers after the polls closed to await the results. Hopper and the Election Board emerged from the chamber and announced the results from the porch area as they did in the 2010 elections. The crowd reacted with some gasps but remained silent for the most part, then broke into applause once Hopper finished announcing the results.
“I’m just humbled to finish where I did,” Walker said after the results. “I’m excited for the opportunity to make a difference, I want to thank all who voted for me and those who did not. I’ve learned we have an active and informed voting base.”
Edwards simply exhaled and said “whew” after the results were taped to the window of the chambers. Edwards said her focus is “to continue the good work” in serving her second term on the Congress.
Whitehorn said she was “shocked and pleased” with the results as she shook hands and hugged fellow Osages and their family members. “I got some goose bumps (when hearing the results), but this was worth it.”
Maker was not present on Election Day, due to his mother's passing the evening before.
In this election in-person ballots slightly edged over the absentee ballots counted on June 4. According to the results, 1,068 Osages voted in person and 1,056 absentee ballots were received in time for the counting process.
Provisional ballots are to be counted Wednesday and it’s unknown how many ballots remain and how much those votes would change the unofficial results. Those considered to be provisional ballots are postmarked at least one day prior to the election and received by the Pawhuska post office within 48 hours after the election.
The provisional ballots could impact the number of votes cast depending on which candidate the absentee voters voted for. The provisional ballots could also affect the outcome of the proposed Constitutional amendment votes.
In the Congressional race, there are 50 votes between Jech and Amanda Proctor who finished seventh with 437 votes or 23.66 percent. Also placing close are Anthony Shackelford (421 votes); Cecelia Tallchief (420); and Becky Johnson (413).
For the proposed Constitutional amendments, the question on term limits for the Principal Chief’s office narrowly failed with 64.7 percent voting “yes” on the question. For a constitutional amendment to pass, 65 percent of the voters must vote “yes.”
According to the proposed term limit amendment (ONCR 11-10), the Principal Chief would be limited to three terms in office.
The other amendments failed with “yes” votes ranging from 59.6 percent to 50.8 percent, according to the initial results.
Voter Stephanie Irwin said she didn’t know what the results would bring, adding she was waiting to hear the provisional ballot count. Irwin was also a poll watcher for Whitehorn and commended the Election Office staff for their work. “It was a tedious, tedious job, they did an excellent job in there,” she said, adding, “I hope (the candidates) do a good job, we gotta give them a chance.”
Tony Daniels said he was “happy for those who ran for Congress tonight” adding “a new chapter begins for all of us.”
The Osage News staff shot photos of the Election Day ongoings and those images have been uploaded to the newspaper's Flickr page. To view the Election Day 2012 photo set, click this link: http: www.flickr.com/photos/osagenews/sets/72157630046330714/