SPECIAL NOMINATION ELECTION FOR UTE SEATS WILL REPLACE TRADITIONAL PROCESS, PRIMARY TRIBAL PANEL: 2 NOMINEES FROM EACH OF 3 BANDS FACE JUNE 4 ELECTION.The traditional nominating process and primary election for three open seats on the Ute Tribal Business Committee have been replaced by a special nomination election to be held next Wednesday.
Under conditions set forth in a newly adopted tribal election ordinance, the two nominees from each of the tribe's three bands receiving the most votes during the nomination election will advance to the June 4 general election, according to tribal public relations spokesman Larry Cesspooch.The nomination election can still be considered a primary, Cesspooch explained. "The members will be given a blank piece of paper with the exception of the number. The paper will be color-coded according to their band. On that paper they will write the name of whomever they want to nominate or whom they would vote for if they were in the primary." He said in a way it does do away with the primary, but at the same time, tribal members are able to vote for whom they would want in the primary. "It will be the top two who make it on the general election."
Something else being done for perhaps the first time is the appointment of non-tribal members as election officials. Local businessmen Kent Olson, Mark Larsenand Merv Betts will serve as the election commission, overseeing the election process.
"The Business Committee appointed non-Indians because no tribal members wanted to serve," said Cesspooch. "This way too there will be no personal bias or interest because the election commission won't have a stake in the outcome. Their whole goal is to get this election done as fairly and quickly as possible so the the tribe can move on." Ute Tribal Court Judge Leon Perank last month delayed the general election for 40 days and ordered the entire election process to be reconducted after irregularities were found in the March 14, primary. Problems arose when the four-member election board required voters to sign their names to their ballots. The signature requirement was in violation of the tribe's constitution. In addition, the court found possible conspiracy and ballots cast by ineligible voters.
Criminal charges are pending in tribal court against the former election board, their legal advocate and Business Committee member Stewart Pike. They are accused of tampering with evidence and destruction of public records. All six have denied the allegations and are currently awaiting trial. Pike's seat is not up for election.