Community , Government

ON Election Board discusses rules and regulation changes, updated website

With the 2020 fiscal year starting Oct. 1, the Osage Nation’s Election Office will receive an upgraded website to share voter and election information with the Osage citizenry.

Election Supervisor Alexis Rencountre told the Election Board that plans to upgrade the website is scheduled to start in October with the Nation’s Information Technologies Department taking on the project.

The website will include updated information and documents on the elections including voter registry request forms, absentee ballot requests, address update requests, as well as requests to participate in the privacy program to opt out of receiving paid political campaign mail from candidates.

The website will also include PDFs of the up-to-date Osage election code (law) and the election rules and regulations for the Nation’s general and special elections, Rencountre told the Election Board during its Aug. 13 meeting in Pawhuska.

In 2020, the next general election will be held June 1 to elect six ON Congress members and to vote on questions referred to the ballot for voter consideration.

Rencountre said the Congressional candidate filing period starts in February 2020 and will close in March.

Election Board Chairwoman Shannon Lockett said the new website will have election information handy for those already considering a run for office. Rencountre noted the election code does not have any recent changes from the last revised bill (ONCA 17-107) passed by Congress during the 2017 Tzi-Zho Session, but revised rules and regulations (ONCR 19-10) received Congressional approval during the 2019 Hun-Kah Session in April.

Lockett briefed incoming Election Board alternate member Fred Byers, who was present at the meeting, on the election governing documents. She noted the rules and regulations contained revisions make clear that election candidates must open and utilize a separate bank account for campaign contributions and expenditures.

“I feel like we elaborated on some of the language,” Rencountre said of the rules to open campaign bank accounts. The campaign bank accounts are a significant part of the election season as the candidates are required to submit two campaign reporting statements listing their donations, self-donations and expenditures for campaign-related costs, per the rules and regulations.

Lockett told Byers the Election Board reviews and certifies the campaign reporting statements once the reports and supporting documents are submitted to specify the candidate’s campaign donations and spending of that money. In the 2018 election, Lockett said a few candidates submitted reports, but did not use their campaign bank accounts for its purpose resulting in candidate fines to the Election Office.

“The next election cycle is going to be very strict – everything has to go through that account so that we can certify them without a doubt, we know everything went in, everything came out and we hope that will make it easier for (future candidates) as well.”

As an alternate board member, Byers and other alternate Anita Fields only serve as voting board members should a sitting board member recuse his/ herself from election matters in the event an election candidate is a board member’s immediate family, lives with the board member or is a business partner, according to the election code.

For more information on the elections, to register or update addresses for voting, and to request absentee ballots, contact the Election Office toll-free at (877) 560-5286 or visit its current website at: www.osagenation-nsn.gov/what-we-do/elections