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HomeGovernment2024 Congressional candidate filing period starts Feb. 6

News Based on facts, either observed and verified directly by the reporter, or reported and verified from knowledgeable sources.

2024 Congressional candidate filing period starts Feb. 6

This year’s general election will be held on June 3 in Pawhuska with two in-person early voting days on May 31 and June 1.

With 2024 being an election year for the Osage Nation government, there will be six ON Congressional seats opening in the June general election with each carrying a four-year term and at least one ballot question for Osage voters’ consideration.

Election Day is the first Monday of each June during even-numbered years, according to the 2006 Osage Constitution. This year’s general election will be held on June 3 in Pawhuska with two in-person early voting days on May 31 and June 1.

On Dec. 20, the Wahzhahzhe Elections Board approved the 2024 election timeline prepared by the Election Office, which comprises notable dates and deadlines leading up to Election Day and post-election business such as any ballot recount requests or challenges. The board also approved edits to templates on election-related forms that will be used by both interested candidates and voters requesting absentee ballots this year.

The Elections Board includes Shannon Lockett (chair), Terry Hazen (vice chair), Belle Wilson and alternate board members are Anita Fields and Fred Byers.

On Feb. 6, the candidacy filing period opens for Osages interested in running for six of 12 Congressional seats opening this June.

Interested candidates must file in person with the Wahzhazhe Elections Office at 608 Kihekah Ave. in Pawhuska and may do so until the filing period closes on March 12. ON government office hours are weekdays from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.    

The six Osage candidates who win the highest number of votes this year will join the other six Congress members in the middle of their current four-year terms and they will all serve on the Ninth ON Congress. This year, Congress members up for re-election are Billy Keene, John Maker, Jodie Revard, Paula Stabler, Pam Shaw and Joe Tillman.

According to the Constitution, enrolled Osages who are at least 25 years old on Election Day and who have never been convicted of a felony are eligible to run for Congress.

Aside from felony convictions, other disqualifications in the Constitution state: “No member of the Osage Nation Congress shall hold any other office or position of profit under the Osage Nation during the term for which the member is elected or appointed. No member of the Osage Nation Congress shall hold any other tribal office under another Indian nation during his or her term of office.”

When filing for candidacy, interested candidates must pay a $300 filing fee charged to Congressional candidates. Filing instructions also state candidates are required to establish a separate bank account to be used for campaign purposes only in the name of the candidate or the candidate’s campaign. All candidates will be required to submit two campaign finance reports detailing all donations, deposits and expenditures for campaigning purposes.

The Elections Board will review the submitted campaign finance reports following submission and is authorized to issue fines to candidates for not following the finance report rules including late submissions, incorrect reporting information and non-use of the candidate’s bank account for campaigning purposes.

In 2020, Osage voters approved a ballot question placing term limits on elected officials and the amended Constitution – printed in 2021 – reflects this change. The disqualifications section now includes: “A person shall be disqualified to hold a position as a member of Congress after serving five (5) full terms in that position, plus any initial partial term fulfilled as the result of that vacancy.”

Throughout the election timeline, the Election Board will meet for both regular and special meetings to take up election-related matters, including on March 18 when the list of candidates must be certified to appear on the ballot. Certification takes place after candidates’ background checks are conducted by the Attorney General’s Office. All candidates will be asked to sign a background investigation consent form.

Also on March 18, the Election Board will approve language for any Constitutional amendment questions appearing on the ballot.

As of Jan. 3, there will be at least one Constitutional amendment question on the ballot asking voters whether to allow appointees to be confirmed by the Legislative Branch during special sessions. Currently, the Congress can only conduct confirmation votes on appointees during the two regular (Hun-Kah and Tzi-Sho) sessions mandated in the 2006 Constitution. Appointments made during the interim must wait for confirmation at the next regular session, which has raised concerns by Congress members on the wait period that could last months before a vote and in the meantime, appointees are serving as interim officials.

Appointees who are subject to confirmation votes include government board and commission members, as well as the Nation’s Treasurer and Attorney General posts, according to Osage law. The Eighth ON Congress approved resolution ONCR 23-07 (sponsored by Congressman Joe Tillman) during the 2023 Hun-Kah Session “to provide for an election to amend Article VII, Section 15 of the Constitution of the Osage Nation to allow appointments to be confirmed in special session.”

“If the proposed amendment is approved by 65% of the electors voting on the question, it shall become part of the Osage Constitution, and shall abrogate or amend existing provisions of the Constitution at the end of 30 days after the date of the election at which it was approved,” the Constitution states under Article XX – Amendment of Constitution.

Per the Constitution, all enrolled Osages who are 18 years old and registered to vote shall be qualified to vote. The Constitution also states the Congress shall establish an election law creating an Election Board that shall be charged with conducting both general and special elections.

For the 2024 election, Osages who plan to vote by mail must submit an absentee ballot request form to the Elections Office by April 19. At that time, Election Office staff will begin mailing absentee ballots to voters who have successfully completed an absentee ballot request form, which includes submitting a copy of the voter’s photo identification such as a driver’s license, passport or tribal ID card.

All absentee ballots must be mailed as soon as possible to the address listed on the provided envelope in order to reach the Pawhuska Post Office by June 3 to be counted. Any ballots arriving after Election Day will not be counted. 

Following the election, the Congressional Office is in charge of planning Inauguration Day activities for the election winners to take their oaths of office. The 2024 Inauguration will be held Saturday, July 13, with time and venue information to follow at a later date.

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

Author

  • Benny Polacca

    Title: Senior Reporter

    Email: bpolacca@osagenation-nsn.gov

    Instagram: @bpolacca

    Topic Expertise: Government, Tribal Government, Community

    Languages spoken: English, basic knowledge of Spanish and French

    Benny Polacca (Hopi/ Havasupai/ Pima/ Tohono O’odham) started working at the Osage News in 2009 as a reporter in Pawhuska, Okla., where he’s covered various stories and events that impact the Osage Nation and Osage people. Those newspaper contributions cover a broad spectrum of topics and issues from tribal government matters to features. As a result, Polacca has gained an immeasurable amount of experience in covering Native American affairs, government issues and features so the Osage readership can be better informed about the tribal current affairs the newspaper covers.

    Polacca is part of the Osage News team that was awarded the Native American Journalists Association's Elias Boudinet Free Press Award in 2014 and has won numerous NAJA media awards, as well as awards from the Oklahoma Press Association and SPJ Oklahoma Pro Chapter, for storytelling coverage and photography.

    Polacca earned his bachelor’s degree from Arizona State University and also participated in the former American Indian Journalism Institute at the University of South Dakota where he was introduced to the basics of journalism and worked with seasoned journalists there and later at The Forum daily newspaper covering the Fargo, N.D. area where he worked as the weeknight reporter.

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Benny Polacca
Benny Polaccahttps://osagenews.org

Title: Senior Reporter

Email: bpolacca@osagenation-nsn.gov

Instagram: @bpolacca

Topic Expertise: Government, Tribal Government, Community

Languages spoken: English, basic knowledge of Spanish and French

Benny Polacca (Hopi/ Havasupai/ Pima/ Tohono O’odham) started working at the Osage News in 2009 as a reporter in Pawhuska, Okla., where he’s covered various stories and events that impact the Osage Nation and Osage people. Those newspaper contributions cover a broad spectrum of topics and issues from tribal government matters to features. As a result, Polacca has gained an immeasurable amount of experience in covering Native American affairs, government issues and features so the Osage readership can be better informed about the tribal current affairs the newspaper covers.

Polacca is part of the Osage News team that was awarded the Native American Journalists Association's Elias Boudinet Free Press Award in 2014 and has won numerous NAJA media awards, as well as awards from the Oklahoma Press Association and SPJ Oklahoma Pro Chapter, for storytelling coverage and photography.

Polacca earned his bachelor’s degree from Arizona State University and also participated in the former American Indian Journalism Institute at the University of South Dakota where he was introduced to the basics of journalism and worked with seasoned journalists there and later at The Forum daily newspaper covering the Fargo, N.D. area where he worked as the weeknight reporter.

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