Osages interested in running for a seat on the Eighth Osage Nation Congress in the 2022 General Election may file their candidacy when the filing period starts Feb. 1 and stretches into early March.
Six seats on the 12-member legislative body will open in the June 6 General Election. Those who run for Congress and are certified – pending background checks for felonies – will be listed on the general election ballot for voters’ consideration. Those interested in filing for Congressional office candidacy must do so at the Wahzhazhe Elections Office in Pawhuska by March 7.
Election Day is the first Monday of each June during even-numbered years after 2010, according to the 2006 Osage Constitution. This year’s general election will be held on June 6 with two days of in-person early voting available in Pawhuska on June 3-4.
Each Congressional member’s term of office is four years. Congressional incumbents whose terms are expiring this year are Paula Stabler, Brandy Lemon, Angela Pratt, Eli Potts, Scott BigHorse and Alice Goodfox.
Qualifications and disqualifications
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 serve as Congress members.
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/ her term.”
This will be the first election after voters approved a question on term limits for elected offices in the 2020 General Election. That year, voters passed a Constitutional amendment question (ONCR 18-20) which places limits of five office terms on Osage officials who are elected, appointed and retained by election in all three branches. That question passed with 75.38% (1,846 voters) of Osages voting “yes” and 22.21% (544 voters) “no” votes.
2022 also marks the first time the recently amended Osage Election Code will be used reflecting the term limits and other amended language regarding certification of candidates.
In October 2021, the Seventh ON Congress approved bill ONCA 21-119 (sponsored by Goodfox), amending the Election Code language regarding certification of candidates. Goodfox sponsored the amendment bill at the request of the Wazhazhe Elections Board, which considered and proposed the amendments with assistance from the Attorney General’s Office.
The Election Code is now updated to state that (Executive and Legislative Branch) candidates shall not be certified as a candidate for office if the candidate: has been convicted of a felony; is disqualified to hold and enjoy office of trust, honor or profit by a judgment in a removal trial; has served five full terms (20 years) plus any initial partial term fulfilled as the result of a vacancy.
Election rules and regulations
In planning for the General Election, as well as the April 4 Primary Election, the Election Office staff and three-member Election Board will also be following rules and regulations governing elections (ONCR 21-20) also amended and approved by Congress last year.
According to ONCR 21-20: “In an effort to ensure fair elections, the Osage Nation Election Board finds that it is necessary to develop rules and regulations for the proper operation of the Osage Nation’s elections for which the (ON) Election Board is responsible for.”
Rules/ regulations include:
– Requiring each candidate to file for candidacy in person at the Election Office in Pawhuska.
– The candidacy filing fee for each Congressional candidate is $300 and shall be made with a cashier’s check or money order.
– After the filing period closes, decisions certifying or disqualifying filed candidates shall be rendered within four business days after the receipt of background checks of all candidates who filed for candidacy before the filing deadline.
– Prior to filing, each candidate is required to open a separate bank account in the name of the candidate or candidate’s campaign and shall provide proof. All campaign donations shall be deposited into this account, including the candidate’s personal funds used for campaign purposes. All expenditures used for campaign purposes shall be spent from this account.
All candidates 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.
Voter qualifications, polling place
As for voter qualifications – per the Constitution – all enrolled Osages who are 18 years old and registered to vote shall be qualified to vote.
The April 4 Primary Election and June 6 General Election polling place will be the ON Civic Center at 1449 W. Main St. in Pawhuska. COVID-19 precautions will be in place, including physical distancing for voters marking their ballots and masks required for voters and election workers in the building.
Voters may also vote by absentee ballot in the Primary Election by requesting an absentee ballot by Feb. 18. Absentee ballot request forms can be downloaded and printed from the Nation’s website or requested from the Election Office at 608 Kihekah Ave. In Pawhuska.
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 current website at www.osagenation-nsn.gov/what-we-do/elections
Original Publish Date: 2022-01-31 00:00:00