Osages who will be submitting absentee ballots for the June 6 general election must make their efforts to ensure their filled-out ballots are mailed to Pawhuska before Election Day for their votes to count.
The Osage Nation Election Office reported it received 1,930 absentee ballot requests. The deadline to request them was May 2. Election Supervisor Alexis Rencountre told the Election Board this year’s number of absentee ballots mailed out is a record high from past Osage elections.
In the June 2014 general election, which included six ON Congressional seats, and the Principal Chief and Assistant Principal Chief’s offices, the Election Office processed just over 1,800 absentee ballot requests.
In the meantime, the Election Office is encouraging Osages who plan to vote via absentee ballot to complete their ballots and mail them in. As of May 18, the Election Office reported 414 absentee ballots were already mailed in. The election office does not have access to the ballots until Election Day, but the USPS counts the ballots processed through its Business Reply Mail account, which can be monitored by the Election Office to see how many ballots have been mailed in.
On Election Day morning, the election board will collect the absentee ballots mailed to the Pawhuska Post Office and will begin counting the ballots that day, along with those ballots submitted by in-person voters.
According to the timeline set by the Election Office, staff started mailing absentee ballots to Osages who requested them by the May 2 deadline. Per the election code, absentee ballot request applications shall be accepted until 35 days prior to Election Day.
Once absentee ballots begin arriving in Pawhuska via mail, they will be kept at the Post Office until 10 a.m. on Election Day, according to the Election Code. At that time, the Election Supervisor, accompanied by ON police, shall retrieve the locked box containing the ballots from the Post Office and shall personally transport the locked box to the polling place where it shall be immediately delivered to the board for processing with the day’s in-person voting ballots.
The Election Code also states a person who requested an absentee ballot, and did not complete and mail the ballot, may vote in-person but they must surrender the absentee ballot to the Election Supervisor or authorized designee on election day or sign an affidavit stating they requested an absentee ballot but did not vote it.
After the election, the Election Office must keep all materials for procuring and casting an absentee ballot for a one-year period after the election.
For election-related updates between now and Election Day, follow the Osage Nation Election Office on Facebook, as well as the Osage News, which is on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.