Choctaw Nation District 11 voters will choose a representative on the upcoming ballot — as well as vote on two proposed amendments to the Choctaw Nation Constitution.
The proposals ask voters to decide if they want to change constitutional articles regarding number of votes required to address council members at meetings and a path for the tribe speaker to become chief in the event of a vacancy.
If it passes, Choctaw Nation Question One would change the number of votes a tribe member will need to address the tribal council during a meeting.
Choctaw Nation Constitution requires a unanimous vote of tribal councilors present for a tribe member to address the council during the meeting. Article X Section Four of the Choctaw Constitution states:
“All regular and special sessions shall be open to the membership of the Nation. However, except for the Chief or his representative and in cases of impeachment, no person shall address the Council unless he or she has the unanimous approval of the Council members present. The Council may meet in executive session upon an affirmative vote of two-thirds (2/3) of the Tribal Council members present. All votes on any matter shall be in open session and shall be a matter of public record.”
The amendment, if approved, will allow tribal members to speak to the council upon a majority approval of councilors present.
Tribal Councilors unanimously approved in March that the proposal appear on ballots to be considered for adoption by a vote of qualified tribal members.
“This proposal amends Section 4 of Article 10 of the Choctaw Constitution. Currently, members of the tribe are only allowed to address the Tribal Council with its unanimous consent. This proposal allows members of the tribe to speak to the Tribal Council if a majority of Tribal Council members present approve,” the proposal states.
Choctaw Nation Question Two provides a succession plan if the offices of the Chief and Assistant Chief both become vacant.
Article 14 of the Choctaw Constitution only has two sections regarding office vacancies.
“Section 1. In case of the death, resignation or removal of the Chief, the Assistant Chief shall immediately become Chief for the remainder of the unexpired term. In the event the Assistant Chief shall succeed to the office of Chief, he shall appoint a successor Assistant Chief with the advice and consent of the Tribal Council.
“Section 2. The Chief shall have power within sixty (60) days after a vacancy occurs in the Tribal Council to fill such vacancy for the remainder of the unexpired term. Such appointee shall meet the same qualifications as required of a candidate for election to such office. If a vacancy occurs more than one (1) year before the expiration of such term, a special election shall be called to fill the vacancy.”
If approved, the amendment will add a third section to Article 14:
“This proposal adds Section 3 to Article XIV of the Choctaw Constitution. It provides for the Speaker of the Tribal Council to become Chief if the offices of Chief and Assistant Chief both become vacant less than one year before the end of the Chief’s term. The Speaker must resign to be-come Chief. If the offices of Chief and Assistant Chief both become vacant more than one year before the end of the Chief’s term, the Tribal Council must call an election within sixty days. The Speaker shall be the interim Chief until the election of a new Chief, if he resigns as Speaker. In either case, the Assistant Chief is appointed by the Chief with approval of the Tribal Council.”
The 12-member Tribal Council voted in May to approve the proposition to go to a vote of eligible tribal members. Councilors approved the measure with a 10-2 vote.
Tribal Councilors Tony Ward, Kenny Bryant, Delton Cox, Ron Perry, Jennifer Woods, Perry Thompson, James Dry, Anthony Dillard, Bob Pate, and James Frazier voted in favor. Thomas Williston and Jack Austin voted against the measure.
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