Government

Wahzhazhe Elections Office preparing timeline for 2022 election year

With four months remaining in the 2021 calendar year, the Wahzhazhe Elections Office is preparing for the 2022 General Election starting with a timeline of important dates for the election season.

In accordance with the 2006 Osage Nation Constitution, the general elections are mandated to occur on the first Monday of each June in even-numbered years starting in 2010. For next year, the general election will be held June 6.

The Principal Chief and Assistant Principal Chief offices in the Executive Branch and six seats on the 12-member ON Congress will open in the 2022 General Election with each seat having a four-year term. Osage voters will also consider the Judicial Branch judges up for retention votes to serve another four-year term and any questions referred to the ballot for a yes/ no vote.

Election Supervisor Alexis Rencountre told the Wahzhazhe Elections Board her office is working on a timeline of the important dates during the board’s Aug. 10 teleconference meeting. “I just wanted you to see your calendar and get familiar with what we’ve got coming in front of us because there’s a couple of months obviously where we’ll have to have two meetings, so I wanted you to be advised of that,” she said.

Election Board Chair Shannon Lockett said she was pleased to see the list noting “it gets us in the mindset of thinking about another election. It seems like we just had one and unfortunately, it looks like we may be dealing with COVID in this one as well.”

Rencountre said the office workload will also pick up in October once the 2022 fiscal year budget is passed in handling duties leading up to the June election, as well as a possible April 4 primary election should more than two candidates file in any of the Executive Branch office races. With the 2020 election held with COVID-19 precautions, Rencountre said the office knows what to do in the upcoming year as the pandemic continues.   

In planning for the general election, the Election Office staff and three-member Election Board will be following mandates and procedures in the Nation’s election code along with rules and regulations governing elections, which were approved by the ON Congress.

Osages interested in running for the Principal Chief and Assistant Principal Chief offices in the 2022 general election must file for candidacy between Dec. 7 and Jan. 10, 2022, according to the list of important dates. Those candidates, as well as Congressional candidates, will be subject to background checks for any felonies on their records before the candidates are certified by the Election Board to appear on the ballot.

A primary election is tentatively scheduled April 4 for the Principal Chief and Assistant Principal Chief candidates, but “If two or fewer candidates for Principal Chief or Assistant Principal Chief file by the filing deadline, those candidates shall advance to the general election,” according to the election code, meaning no primary election would be held. The two Executive Branch candidates with the highest vote counts will win those two respective office seats.

There is no primary election for Congressional candidates, so all certified candidates’ names will appear on the June 6 ballot. The six Congressional candidates receiving the highest vote counts will win those office seats.

The filing period for Congressional candidates starts Feb. 1, 2022, and ends March 14. Also, duly appointed and re-elected judges who serve as ON Supreme Court Justices or as the Trial Court Chief Judge who are eligible for retention votes may file for retention in the same Feb. 1-March 14 filing period, in accordance with the election code. Absentee and early voting opportunities will be available in both primary and general elections.

Per election rules and regulations, all candidates must file for candidacy in person at the Election Office in Pawhuska, which includes paying a filing fee (with a cashier’s check or money order) and showing proof of opening a bank account for campaign donations and expenditures. The filing fee for Principal Chief candidates is $500; Assistant Principal Chief candidates must pay $400; and Congressional candidates must pay $300.

All candidates for Executive Branch and Congressional seats will be required to provide two campaign reporting statements listing campaign donations and expenditures out of the campaign bank account, according to the election rules and regulations. Failure to follow the rules and regulations could result in fines issued by the Election Board.

For more information on the elections, filing for candidacy, or 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 website at www.osagenation-nsn.gov/what-we-do/elections