Serving Northern St. Louis County, Minnesota

New primary set for July 10

General election will be Sept. 18

Jodi Summit
Posted 5/16/18

REGIONAL- The Bois Forte Band will hold a new primary election for tribal offices in the wake of a decision by the Minnesota Chippewa Tribe’s Tribal Election Court of Appeals.

The ruling …

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New primary set for July 10

General election will be Sept. 18

Posted

REGIONAL- The Bois Forte Band will hold a new primary election for tribal offices in the wake of a decision by the Minnesota Chippewa Tribe’s Tribal Election Court of Appeals.

The ruling upholds the earlier decision of the Bois Forte Tribal Court to invalidate the results of the April 3 primary election.

The primary election results were initially challenged by candidates Kristal Strong, Brandon Benner, and Edward D. Chavers, who raised issues with irregularities with the handling of absentee ballots. The decision by Bois Forte Election Contest Judge Christopher Anderson, dated April 20, affirmed that there were issues related to the handling of absentee ballots that affected the rights of as many as 64 tribal members to cast a timely vote, and ordered a new primary election be held.

This decision to redo the election was then appealed by candidates Karlene Chosa, Shane Drift, and Mildred Holmes, as well as the Bois Forte Election Board.

“The only way to guarantee the integrity of the election at this point is to give everyone the opportunity to vote again,” wrote the court in their decision dated May 8. “While this is an extraordinary remedy, it is necessary here where the Election Ordinance violations that admittedly impacted the ability of 64 tribal members to cast their votes in what amounted to very close races.”

The court noted that allowing only the 64 affected voters to vote again would not produce fair election results.

“These 64 persons would lodge their vote knowing how tight the races are,” the court order noted, “which may increase their rate of participation. More importantly, however, these individuals would vote knowing the precise distribution of votes from the April 3 election. As a result, they may very well vote differently that they would if such results were not a given.”

The new primary election will be held on Tuesday, July 10, with the same slate of candidates as the April 3 election. The Bois Forte General Election Board will coordinate the details of the new election under the direction and guidance of the Executive Director of the Minnesota Chippewa Tribe. The general election date has been set for Sept. 18.

All the same absentee voting requirements will apply. To obtain an absentee ballot, voters must request one for the New Primary Election of July 10, 2018.  If a voter sent a request for an absentee ballot prior to May 9, 2018, it is invalid and will not be honored.  Voters must send a new signed, written request. Questions should be directed to the General Election Board by telephone at 218-757-0276 or by email at electionboard@boisforte-nsn.gov.

April 3 primary results

In the single reservation-wide contest, incumbent treasurer David Morrison was the top vote getter overall, with 186 votes, in a three-way race against Karlene Chosa, with 134, and Brandon Benner with 132.

Sidra Starkovich tallied 44 votes and Peter F. Boney had 34 votes to advance for the Vermilion seat. Other candidate totals were Kristal Strong 23, Gary W. Adams 9, George J. Strong 12, Corey Strong 27, Earl Villebrun 9, and Muriel Deegan 15.

Shane Drift was the top vote-getter for the Nett Lake seat with 61 votes and Mildred R. Holmes had 54 to advance to the general. Other candidate totals were Charles Wagner 48, Edward Villebrun 33, Crystal Villebrun 5, Eddie Chavers 38, Robbie E. Goggleye 32. This is the seat currently held by Brandon Benner, who opted to run for treasurer.

There were 452 ballots cast, and of these 94 were absentee ballots for Nett Lake and 36 were absentee ballots for Vermilion.

Editor’s note: The April 27 article in the Timberjay about the April 20 initial repeal of the election incorrectly stated that the decision came from the Minnesota Chippewa Tribe, when in fact it had been made by the Bois Forte Tribal Election Contest Judge Christopher Anderson.

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