All questions are related to the current mail-in ballot election . . .
Why was the spring General Council meeting cancelled?
Out of concern for the health and safety of our community, and at the Elections Committee’s recommendation, Tribal Council decided to cancel the meeting and move the elections into a mail-in ballot process. While Mason County, thankfully, has a very low rate of Covid-19 infection, other counties in Washington State and other states have Covid-19 cases on the rise. Because this is an event in which tribal members from across the world are invited to participate for multiple hours, it was deemed unsafe to continue with the General Council meeting at this time.
How do I vote?
You will receive a ballot in the mail at the address the tribal enrollment office has on file for you. Once you receive your ballot, you will need to open your envelope. Inside you will find a ballot, a security sheet, and a stamped return envelop with the mailing and return address filled out. You simply need to follow the instructions inside. Fill in the boxes for the candidates you would like to vote for, fold the ballot into the security sheet, and then place the ballot & security sheet inside the return envelope. Once you have sealed the return envelope, take it to any outgoing mailbox to cast your vote.
How do I update or check my address?
The enrollment office will be handling all addresses. To update or check your address on file, call Tammy Ford at (360) 432-3888 or e-mail . Please update your address as soon as possible as ballots will be printed and mailed out as soon as June 29th.
What if I lose or ruin my ballot?
You may request another ballot to be sent to the address of your request. Your previous lost or ruined ballot will be invalidated in the system and the lost/ruined ballot will not be counted if it is sent in. Call (209) 259-6740 for a ballot replacement or update to your address after ballots have been sent out.
How do I nominate a candidate?
To nominate a candidate you must be a tribal member of 18 years of age or over. Fill out the Candidate Nominations Form and submit it to the Elections Committee. You may submit the form in person or at the Tribal Center (10 SE Squaxin Lane, Shelton WA). The form must be submitted by 4:00 p.m. on Tuesday, June 23rd, 2021 to be valid. You will need some information from the candidate, like address and enrollment number.
How do I accept or decline nomination?
If you are an eligible candidate you need to fill out the Candidate Response Form declaring whether you accept or decline the nomination. If you accept, you will also need to provide a three minute or less video declaring your acceptance. The form and acceptance video is required by 4:00 p.m. on Friday, June 26th, 2021. If a response is not submitted by the deadline, the response is decline by omission.
Who is eligible to vote?
This election will follow the same rules of previous elections following our Constitution and Electoral Code that were voted in by the General Council (General Body). Any member 18 years of age and over will be allowed to vote. There is no restriction on location for voters. At the time of this writing, we have 817 eligible tribal member voters.
Who is eligible to run?
As ruled by the Constitution, any tribal member who is 18 years of age and over who has domiciled (lived) within 50 miles of Squaxin Island for the past year will be eligible to run as a candidate for Tribal Council. Our Electoral Code restricts members from running for more than one position in a given election, however, members may run for as many elections as they want. Sitting Council Members may also run for a position without giving up their current seat unless they win.
Is my vote Anonymous?
Your vote is anonymous. There are no identifying markers on your ballots. When we do mail-in elections we require that the ballot be submitted in a voter identifying envelope with voter name and a barcode on the back. We use this barcode to identify the voter and make sure the ballot is valid and that there are not duplicates for a single voter. As part of the ballot counting process have one person cut the mailing envelopes in a stack. This individual then brings the opened stack of mailing envelopes to a worker who takes out the Secret Ballot Envelopes and stack them neatly. Another person takes the secret ballot envelopes to be cut open and then takes them to another worker to empty and take out the ballots. Because the stacks of envelopes are being move from person to person and the envelope with a name one it is not being opened by the same person at the same time as the Secret Ballot Envelope there is no way for them to track the ballot to the voter and thus there is anonymity.
How are ballots counted?
Ballots are counted by the Elections Consultant with assistance of hardware and software to facilitate the process and enable review by everyone in the room. This process is handled in 4 phases. 1) Authentication. This is where validate the voter. In the case of mail-in ballots this is where we scan the mailing envelope that the voter sent in. In an in-person election this is done by scanning the voters “Ballot Card”. In this step we make sure that voters did not submit more than one ballot. We also open and stack the ballots during this phase. This is done with a envelope cutting machine and volunteers that take out the ballots and secret ballot envelopes in a process that ensures anonymity. 2) Optical Scan. This is where we scan the ballots into a computer. The computer software does a preliminary review of the ballots. 3) Auditing. Here we review each of the ballots and the computers interpretation of the vote. We are able to see the ballot with an overlay of how the software determined and is counting the vote. In this way everyone in the room can look and review each vote and evaluate an issue ballots, such as those that mark more than one candidate. 4) Delivery of the legal record. The results are tallied and we move on to making an official determination of the election. Such as if someone clearly won or if a runoff is necessary. We have a graphic to represent this process here.