The 5th Osage Minerals Council is addressing the matter of 47 absentee ballot requests that went unanswered for the June 6 election.
At their July 20 meeting, the council voted to send a letter to Supreme Court Chief Justice Meredith Drent to request her advice on the matter.
The issue is complicated because the June 6 election is over, the 5th OMC has been sworn in, and there were no contests to the election results. Furthermore, the OMC election office is shuttered until the next election in four years and all election ballots and materials are under seal for 90 days with Drent until they are destroyed, per OMC election rules.
The OMC Election Designee, Billie Ponca, addressed the situation on June 15 when she issued her final election report. TrueBallot is the company that handled the ballots for the 2018 and 2022 elections.
Ponca said voters called wanting to know where their ballots were. She said they checked to see if they had a request for an absentee ballot on file and they also checked their BIA master list. The BIA supplies the OMC with a list of eligible voters each election.
“After the polls closed, all the ballots received were counted. There were no spoiled ballots. When we opened the ballot box, and TrueBallot was retrieving them, there were 47 absentee ballot requests in the lockbox. This is despite the fact the lockbox had an example of what the ballot looked like taped to the lockbox and under the PO Box 807,” Ponca said. “That was so the Postal workers would know where to put the absentee ballots. Therefore, we know why we didn’t receive voters’ requests when they called to inquire.”
Ponca said some shareholders also confused the OMC election rules with that of the Osage Nation.
“They think they will receive ballots automatically – without a request; they want early voting; they thought they were set up for permanent absentee ballots and they confused the Osage Nation General Election with the Osage Minerals Council election. We explained our Rules and Regulations are completely different from that of the Osage Nation’s,” she said. “We have had callers call and cuss us, argue, hang up on us, and basically call us liars. We even had one voter say that she is positive that the administration has gotten to the ballot people.”
According to OMC election rules, a shareholder must request an absentee ballot in writing via mail to the OMC Election’s post office box and that request was due by May 13. Emails are not accepted and there is no online registration.
In the 2018 election, a total of 937 shareholders voted with 488 of those votes made via absentee. In this year’s election, a total of 609 shareholders voted, with 163 of those votes made via absentee.
Revard, who asked for the discussion about the absentee ballot requests at the OMC’s July 20 meeting, said he was one of the 47 people who did not receive an absentee ballot, but he did however vote in person.
Councilman Myron Red Eagle said the comments made by Revard sounded as if he was protesting the election.
“Maybe we should say that this isn’t a protest, but this is just a courtesy … maybe, even, it’s an entitlement to have an explanation. I feel as one of those 47, I feel entitled to know why I didn’t get an answer,” Revard said. “I’m not protesting it, I’m not protesting the election at all, I just want to know why I didn’t get one.”
OMC Chairman Everett Waller said the candidates are the only individuals who can protest an OMC election and that deadline was June 13. Cynthia Boone, an OMC candidate who finished 9th in both the 2018 election and this year’s election, said she has received calls from shareholders who are unhappy with how the election was handled.
“I can’t redevelop this process,” Waller said to her. “All the 5th [OMC] council can do is better the process.” The council agreed the election rules need to be updated before the 2026 election. The council voted 7-0 for the letter to be sent to Drent. Councilman Talee Redcorn was absent for the vote.