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Rocky Boy election board votes to delay election

The board that oversees elections at Rocky Boy's Indian Reservation has voted to delay a special election while questions about a 1966 ordinance are answered.

The Chippewa Cree Tribe Election Committee sent a press release to the Havre Daily News Tuesday, after the paper had gone to press, stating "The Election Board has deemed additional time is required to ensure that the decision as to qualifications of candidates is constitutionally valid."

The release, dated Friday, said that the Election Board would no longer accept absentee ballots for Tuesday's canceled election and would destroy any absentee ballots received.

It cited a complaint filed in tribal court over the validity of a 1966 tribal ordinance as the reason for the board's decision to delay the election.

The issue at question is the eligibility of Ken Blatt St. Marks, whose March 25 removal as chair of the Chippewa Cree Business Committee by the other members of the committee created the need for the special election which had been scheduled for Tuesday.

The Business Committee said in a press release March 25 that St. Marks was removed due to gross misconduct and neglect of duty, listing unspecified charges of employee harassment including sexual harassment, financial misconduct, unauthorized expenditures and illegal employment practices.

St. Marks has said his removal was in retaliation for his investigating, and cooperating with federal inspectors investigating, what he says are misdeeds and misuse of money including of federal funds allocated to various departments at the reservation.

The federal government indicted six people including two Chippewa Cree tribal officials April 18 on charges of embezzling federal money allocated to the regional water project being built in the area.

The Chippewa Cree Election Board first certified St. Marks as an eligible candidate in the special election to fill his position, then ruled he was ineligible after someone filed a protest.

St. Marks has said the 1966 ordinance cited in that ruling is no longer in effect and was not listed in the requirements given to him when he filed as a candidate.

Friday, a tribal judge heard arguments about delaying the election and reinstating St. Marks as a candidate. A tribal court official told the Havre Daily News that, because it is a civil proceeding, orders issued by the judge will be sealed and the Havre Daily cannot obtain a copy.


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