Washoe election board rules against complainant
November 30, 2002
Results of the Washoe tribe’s recent election will stand after the election department disallowed a protest by a candidate.
“My client is obviously disappointed with the decision,” said attorney Karen Winters, who represents Benny Mills, a former candidate in the election for the chairman seat, who was not allowed to vote.
Washoe Tribal Council Chairman Brian Wallace was re-elected Oct. 19, and starts his fourth four-year term in January.
Mills claimed the tribe’s election board changed a practice of allowing off-reservation members to vote on Election Day with on-reservation tribe members. Instead, they were told to vote absentee.
Mills said he and at least 20 other off-reservation members did not receive absentee ballots in time to vote.
In its four-page decision, the election department cited elections codes of the tribal council ratified in the late 1990s that determined off-reservation members would vote absentee. It also stated it is not its responsibility to “actively initiate voter drives or to ensure that the addresses for off-reservation members are accurate.”
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It goes on to state: “Even if all of the off-reservation members who were turned away from community polling places had voted for the candidate with the second highest number of votes, it would not have affected the outcome of the election.”
Winters said Mills is contemplating further legal action.
“It is unfortunate the (election department) chose to interpret and enforce those changes in their laws for the very first time in this recent election,” she said. “We are hopeful, however, that the flaws in those new laws that were brought out by Mr. Mills will be corrected prior to the next election.”
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