News you can use

Rocky Boy election panel overturns results

St. Marks to appeal

The Chippewa Cree Tribe’s Election Board has invalidated the recent special election and ordered that yet another election be held for tribal chair.

In a letter to Ken Blatt St. Marks, the candidate who finished first in the elections, the board’s attorney, Lynn Fagan of Missoula, said the results were overturned because some people were allowed to vote with photocopied Certification of Indian Blood documents instead of laminated documents as required by the a law passed by voters in November.

The Election Board allowed people to vote with the photocopied documents, but now admits its mistake, Fagan said in the letter.

St. Marks said the few people who voted with photocopied IDs would not have changed the results of the election. He won by more than 100 votes over second-place finisher Rick Morsette, the acting tribal chair.

He said he would protest the decision in tribal court, and if that fails, he will go to the United State government and insist that officials fulfill their trust responsibilities to Native Americans and uphold the election results.

St. Marks said he is the legitimate chair of the tribal council.

On Election Day, St. Marks said, people were turned away if they did not have the proper documents and were told to go to the tribal office to get new ones. But the lamination machine at tribal headquarters had broken down, so they were given photocopied documents, he said.

That was the case for a number of prisoners at the Rocky Boy detention center, who cast ballots, Fagan said.

St. Marks’ wife was a poll watcher on Election Day, and she said at least half of the 19 prisoners who voted had the required laminated documents.

Fagan’s letter said the protest was filed with the election board by a defeated candidate, but did not say which of St. Marks’ four foes filed the objections.

St. Marks said he believes it was Morsette.

St. Marks said the disputed votes should be counted, and if they are not, he still would have won the election.

Fagan said she did not know when the new election would be held, but all of the candidates would be notified.

Politics at Rocky Boy’s Indian Reservation have been in tumult since St. Marks was elected chair last November.

After serving a couple of months, St. Marks was removed by the tribal council. St. Marks’ supporters contend that the action violated several clauses in the tribal constitution.

Plans were announced for a new election, but voting was delayed because of disputes over whether St. Marks was eligible to run.

Finally, Tribal Court Justice Donna Running Wolf ruled in St. Marks favor; the election was held and St. Marks won.

St. Marks said the Rocky Boy political establishment opposes his candidacy because he has been working with federal prosecutors in ferreting out corruption in tribal government.

He said they will stop at nothing to prevent him from assuming office.

While this protest was upheld, the election panel rejected a second protest, that the board should have ruled St. Marks off the ballot before the election.

In her letter to St. Marks, Fagan asked that all communications with the Elections Board be conducted through her.

“The Election Board has been verbally harassed and physically threatened by disgruntled candidates and their families in the past and refuse to be subject to this type of behavior,” she said.

Future threats, she said, will be dealt with through tribal court, she said.


Reader Comments(7)

Snickers writes:

This is too obvious for words, why not charge those few voters with voter fraud and get on with how the people voted?? cripes.

Joe1957 writes:

The people spoke twice, if the people wanted another as their chair they would have voted for them. When will this nonsense end. Vote Ken again!

bill writes:

Election Board now admits its mistake. We need a new board that can run an honest election. What has occurred, increasing or decreasing the voting totals can be construed as election fraud. There is also a conspiracy factor if the governing body has influenced the protest. Fraud, Conspiracy, Civil Rights violations, embezzling, the rez is a rudderless ship.

fedup writes:

you can bet there's another card up the losers' sleeve, probably give the one person that is in serious need to withdraw his name for a few grand and hope to gather more votes.

Remember writes:

Voters need to remember the actions of Rick Morsette to keep Ken from being Chairman and try to win an election. Rick you lost by 138 votes!!!! prisoner votes would not have mattered. The jail can't hold 139 prisoners. A photo copy of a Tribal ID still verifies the voter was qualified. The Election Board has a list of qualified voters and require them to sign by their name. Why conceal who filed the protest Lynn Fagen? Everyone knows already.

fedup writes:

This issue may go on until there are only 6 months left in the term, then watch the people vote all the council members out, so we will have at least 1/2 a council with some guts to move on with business. There should be 5 positions for council open by then. They are supposed to be Tribal Leaders, not followers!!!!

dsrobins writes:

It's truly amazing. There seemes to be no limit to the depth of corruption among Rocky Boy tribal officials. St. Marks appears to be the only honest man among them.