Council Pushing Forward with Constitutional Election

 

Registration Deadline

The deadline to vote in the Secretarial Election to amend the Isleta Tribal Constitution is Tuesday, August 26, 2014, at 4:30 p.m. You may register at the Isleta Tribal Census and Enrollment Office.

If you do not have a registration packet, contact the Isleta Census & Enrollment Department at (505) 869-9766. The Census Office will or should provide you with the necessary registration form.

The Isleta Tribal Council is moving forward with their election on their proposed amendments regardless of how many people actually register. So, if you fail to register, then you will be allowing the Council to get their amendments approved without your voice.

The proposed amendments to the Isleta Tribal Constitution are not minor changes. If the voters approve the proposed amendments, then there will be fundamental changes to our tribal government. It’s critical for all tribal members to carefully read the proposed amendments and decide whether to approve each one.

It’s unfortunate that the Isleta Tribal Council failed to conduct community meetings to discuss their proposed amendments with the people. Nevertheless, it’s our obligation to do our best at understanding the proposed changes that this Council is pushing onto the Tribe.

I can assure you that the majority of this Council does not care whether you register to vote. Indeed, most likely, they’re hoping that you will not register because it creates a greater likelihood that their amendments will pass due to a small voter turnout.

Remember, to have a valid election, the Council only needs 30% of the people that register — to actually vote.1)“. . .amendments shall be considered adopted, ratified, or revoked if a majority of those actually voting are in favor of adoption, ratification, or revocation. The total vote cast, however, must be at least 30 percent of those entitled to vote, unless, with regard to amendments, the constitution provides otherwise.” 25 CFR §81.7.

For example, if only 600 people register to vote, then the Council will only need 30% of those people to actually show up and cast a vote.

600 x 30% = 180

This means that 180 people could make the decision for 3,461 total tribal members.2)According to the Isleta Census and Enrollment Department there are 3,461 enrolled tribal members as of July 1, 2014.

According to the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA), they mailed out 2,861 registration packages to tribal members eligible to vote. Eligible voters are enrolled tribal members that are 18 years of age or older.

On August 16, 2014, Michael Allen Lente, President of the Council, reported they had over 300 people registered to vote.  He did not give a specific number.

Nevertheless, for sake of discussion, let’s assume that 600 people register to vote.  600 people is about 21% of the eligible voters of our Tribe. This means that 79% of eligible persons are not voting. Why? 

Well, according to several members of the Council, it’s because you do not care.  The Council will also tell you that they’ve done all that they could to get people to register. But, “we just can’t force people to care.”

Don’t believe their non-sense. The reason people have not registered is because the Isleta Tribal Council failed to properly educate the Tribe about their proposed changes to our Tribal Constitution. The Council failed to explain why their changes are supposedly “good” for our Tribe. 

Undoubtedly, we need to amend our Constitution.  The question is whether the 12 amendments that this Council is proposing will be in the best interests of our Tribe.

This Council HAS NOT done everything that they can to encourage the people to register to vote.  They have done absolutely nothing to educate the people as to why their proposed changes will benefit our Tribe. Why? Because they are afraid you. They are afraid of discussion and debate about their proposed changes.  They are afraid of you asking them questions that they can’t answer.

On August 11, 2014, Governor Eddie Paul Torres told the Council that he does not believe the election to amend the Constitution should go forward, if they do not get a better registration turnout. The problem, however, is that Governor Torres does not have the legal authority to stop the election.

Only the Isleta Tribal Council can stop or delay the election from going forward. But, it is doubtful that they will do so because the majority of the Council does not care whether you vote. Remember, they believe that you — JUST — DON’T — CARE.  So, they simply want to push their proposed amendments onto the Tribe.

It’s extremely important for all tribal members to register and vote. You need to have a voice in the direction of our Tribe. Voting allows you to have a voice in the future of our Tribe.  You also need to encourage your family members to register and vote. I hope you will.

References   [ + ]

1. “. . .amendments shall be considered adopted, ratified, or revoked if a majority of those actually voting are in favor of adoption, ratification, or revocation. The total vote cast, however, must be at least 30 percent of those entitled to vote, unless, with regard to amendments, the constitution provides otherwise.” 25 CFR §81.7.
2. According to the Isleta Census and Enrollment Department there are 3,461 enrolled tribal members as of July 1, 2014.

What are your thoughts?