Amidst the coronavirus pandemic, Citizen Potawatomi Nation’s 2020 Tribal elections will continue as scheduled through in-person and absentee ballots, despite the cancelation of Family Reunion Festival.
Three votes will take place this year, including the Nationwide vote on the annual Tribal budget.
The budget, if approved, manages the Nation’s trust earnings. No principal from the fund is spent, but the budget pays for national service projects and the executive branch of the Tribe.
Secondly, Oklahoma members will vote to select at-large legislators for districts 9 and 12. These are Oklahoma-based seats that represent all Tribal members residing in the state. In District 9, incumbent Paul Wesselhöft and challenger Jay Laughlin are running, while in District 12, incumbent Paul Schmidlkofer is the only candidate.
All CPN voters, regardless of location, will be able to vote to reconfirm Justice Jennifer Lamirand for a six-year term on the CPN Supreme Court. She was nominated by Tribal Chairman John “Rocky” Barrett and confirmed by Tribal legislature at its February 2020 meeting.
Voting eligibility includes all CPN members who are at least 18 years old on Election Day.
In-person voting will take place at FireLake Arena Saturday, June 27 from 7 a.m. to 2 p.m. Those who have requested and received an absentee ballot that wish to instead vote in person must present their absentee ballot at the polling place in order to vote.
To enter CPN property, all are required to have a temperature check and wear a mask while inside the building. This includes those wishing to cast a ballot in person on June 27. A mask will be provided at the door for those without one.
Fortunately, CPN mailed members across the world absentee ballot request forms to their last known address at the end of March.
If members did not receive a ballot request card, CPN Tribal Rolls may not have an updated address in its database. Due to privacy laws, addresses and contact information from other entities like CPN Health Services or pharmacy cannot be shared automatically with Tribal Rolls. The election committee uses the most up-to-date information in the database to send the cards.
If you did not receive an absentee ballot request, you can still request one. A copy of the ballot request is included here, and you can download and print it at potawatomi.org/2020-ballot/.
You may also request a ballot by mailing a letter. Absentee ballot requests must be postmarked no later than June 6, 2020.
Enrolled members of voting age should send a signed letter to:
CPN Election Committee
PO Box 310
Tecumseh, OK 74873
The letter must state the following information:
- Full legal name
- CPN Tribal Roll number
- Legislative district they are casting a ballot for
- A signature at the bottom of the letter
Once the election committee gets the letter and confirms its validity, it will mail out an absentee ballot. That absentee ballot must be returned and be in the hands of the election committee no later than June 27, 2020 at 10 a.m. Election results will be posted on potawatomi.org and CPN social media accounts as soon as they can be verified.
Because of the health concerns associated with processing physical ballots and request forms, the election committee is researching ways to process them.
2020 General Council meeting
In accordance with the Tribal Constitution, CPN will hold a General Council meeting at FireLake Arena on June 27 at 3 p.m. The Nation will enforce social distancing measures inside the Arena to provide as safe an environment as possible while meeting Constitutional obligations as a government. This includes temperature checks at the door, social distancing inside the arena and mandatory masks for attendees. If you do not have a mask, one will be provided at the door. For those traveling from the locations listed below, you will be required to comply with a 14-day quarantine in Oklahoma before entering Tribal property. This list may be updated as developments unfold.
- New York
- New Jersey
- Washington State
District 1 seat to be appointed
In late April, longtime District 1 Representative Roy Slavin walked on, leaving the seat open. In accordance with Article 15, Section 1 of the Citizen Potawatomi Constitution, the seat will be filled by an appointment from the Tribal chairman with the approval of a majority of the legislature.
As of now, Tribal Chairman John “Rocky” Barrett has not indicated who that appointment will be. Watch for updates in future editions of the Hownikan.