Government

Osage voters to determine whether Chief candidates will run on combined tickets

At the next election, Osage voters will be asked the question of whether the 2006 Constitution shall be amended to require candidates for Principal Chief and Assistant Principal Chief to run for office on a combined ticket.

During the 2019 Hun-Kah Session, the Sixth ON Congress voted 10-0 to approve a resolution (ONCR 19-07 sponsored by Congresswoman Alice Goodfox) asking the Constitutional amendment question at the next election. The question focuses on the Principal Chief qualifications section, which would be amended if the question passes.

The next general election is in June 2020 with two Constitutional amendment questions on the ballot along with six Congressional seats with each individual position carrying a four-year term.

Before the vote, Goodfox addressed her legislative colleagues: “If it passes, then we will see the Chief and Assistant Chief running in the 2022 election on a (single) ticket, so I would urge you to vote ‘yes’ and let the Osage voters tell us how they wish to proceed with our elections in terms of tickets.”

Currently, the Principal Chief and Assistant Principal Chief run for office individually and each person is elected by the majority of voters. The qualifications section mandates that Principal Chief candidates be at least 35 years old on election day and have no felony convictions.

If Osage voters approve the Constitutional amendment question, the qualifications section will be amended to keep the current qualifications plus the following additional amendment: “Candidates for Principal Chief are required to run for office with a Candidate for Assistant Principal Chief to allow them to be elected on a combined ticket.”

At the federal level, U.S. Presidents and Vice Presidents campaign together and run on a combined ticket, which has been the practice after the adoption of the 12th amendment to the U.S. Constitution to prevent the two elected officials from being from opposing political parties, according to a thoughtsco.com article on Presidential elections.

In November 2018, Oklahoma voters defeated State Question No. 798, which asked whether the state’s Constitution should be amended to require the Governor and Lieutenant Governor to be elected together on a single ticket starting in 2026. The question failed with 54% voting “no,” according to the Oklahoma State Election Board.   

Congressional members discussed ONCR 19-07 during an April 11 Government Operations Committee meeting where legislation is typically considered first.

Congressman Eli Potts said he favored the question for voters. “What’s always been puzzling to me is you can have a Chief with one idea and an Assistant Chief with another idea and if something were to happen, you’ve got conflicting initiatives and I don’t think that puts us in the right direction. I think running on a combined ticket provides unity and a clear vision for the Nation that’s going to be put forward every four years,” he said.

Congresswoman Maria Whitehorn also said she supports the question because “the way we do it currently – to hope that an Assistant Chief and Chief that don’t have common goals for the Nation are going to meld – I think is a difficult position to put our Nation in and a difficult position to put the Executive Branch in, so I’ve always agreed with this concept.”

Goodfox noted the Nation’s Attorney General’s office will review and draft the question language before it’s placed on the ballot “in a nice neat form.”

With a 12-member Congress, 10 “yes” votes are required to pass resolutions with Constitutional amendment questions, said then-Congressional Speaker RJ Walker. All 10 Congress members present voted “yes” with absences from Congress members Shannon Edwards and John Maker on April 12.