Skip to comments.Field of chairman candidates whittled to one
Posted on 01/08/2014 12:55:57 PM PST by Migraine
WHITERIVER Just when politics were being eliminated from White Mountain Apache tribal operations, politics appeared again, this time during the run-up to the election.
The supposedly independent WMAT Election Commission issued a decision Dec. 31 that of nine candidates for tribal chairman, only one, current Chairman Ronnie Lupe, qualified through his nominating petitions.
Lupe has told The Independent that he has spent the last four years trying to eliminate politics from most facets of tribal operations.
How Lupes petition passed muster when no one elses did, they did not say.
However, they did tell candidates that there were many duplicate signatures among the petitions, which was expected. Duplicates nullify one another. Candidates routinely get more than the required 5 percent of voters to cover this eventuality.
In a surprise announcement, they also said that there were many signatures from unregistered voters. Seemingly none, or few, of these duplicates and unregistered voters appeared on Lupes petitions.
The tribal constitution varies from tribal law on this matter.
Article VI, Section 1 of the constitution says there shall be a general election on the first Wednesday in April every other year. It does not mention primaries. Section 5.1.C of the tribal election code (laws passed by the council) sets up primaries. It says they shall be held the first Wednesday of February. It is custom that the top two vote-getters in the primary runoff in the general election, but the section establishing primaries does not say that.
Concerning eligible voters versus registered voters, the code varies not only from the constitution, but from itself.
The constitution does not mention voter registration, but in Article VI, Section 3, says that any enrolled member of the tribe 18 years of age or older shall have the right to vote.
The code, in section 3.2 and 3.3, sets up the concept of voter registration, but thereafter refers only to eligible voters, especially when discussing petition-signing in Section 4.7. Eligible voters, as previously stated, are deemed by the constitution to be any tribal member 18 years of age.
Some candidates are scratching their collective heads and have told The Independent they have not seen this kind of one-sided rejection of all challengers to the incumbent chairman before.
At press time, there has not been word as to whether the election commissioners will share their work with the rejected candidates, nor whether there will be court challenges.
If Lupes supremacy in this process stands, there will be no primary for that position, since it takes three candidates to force a primary.
This is occurring in the White Mountains of eastern AZ.