By Edward F. Mouss II (Updated 2-15-12)
Many Muscogee voters are probably wondering how the new voting system will affect their district and representation on the National Council. While it may seem unclear, there are aspects of the new voting system that are certain. One certainty is that there will be no district that will be able to choose their representation on their own. Another certainty is that each district becomes the minority when it comes to choosing their own representation.
The new “at-large” voting system was instituted by Constitutional Convention Amendment A67. The version of A67 that passed the Constitutional Convention of 2008 simply reduced the number of National Council seats to sixteen.
The version of A67 that eventually ended up on the ballot was a completely different version than the version of A67 that was passed at the Constitutional Convention of 2008. The modified version of A67 that appeared on the ballot reduced citizens’ representation on the National Council not only by reducing the number of seats but also by eliminating the residency requirement to vote for council members. This version of Amendment A67 was never presented to or passed by the members of the Constitutional Convention of 2008. Many citizens and tribal officials at the time considered the amendment unconstitutional and the means by which it was put on the ballot illegal.
So what is the big concern about at-large systems?
At-large voting systems allow half of the voters to control all of the seats in an election. At-large voting usually has an outcome that is unfair to the minority vote. The minority vote could be a racial minority or a political minority. In the case of the Muscogee Nation the minority will be a political minority. Each district becomes the political minority when it comes time to vote for their representation.
Most at-large voting systems in the United States have been challenged and determined to be unfair under federal election laws.
While the logic, behind the new system is unknown, the authors of the modified amendment are known tribal officials or former officials. According to sources on the Constitutional Convention Commission, the authors of the modified version of A67 were former District Judge Patrick Moore and former Secretary of the Nation Kevin Dellinger. Without authority,these two individuals reportedly altered the original Amendment A67 after the Convention had been convened for several months. A media release was even published in the Muscogee Nation News stating that amendment A67 would not be placed on the ballot at all.
To give you an idea of the overwhelming odds your district has to overcome to get the representative that you want, here are some numbers from the latest Election Board statistics.
According the Election Board, there are 16,076 voters as of September 9, 2011. So the total number of voters from each district will be subtracted from 16,076 to show the total number of potential votes that the rest of the Nation has compared to each District. It is important to note that no district has enough votes to overcome the potential votes of the rest of the Nation.
Total District Voters / Votes From the Rest of the Nation
Creek District – 2038 / 14038
McIntosh District – 2136 / 13940
Muskogee District – 1102 / 14974
Okfuskee District – 1733 / 14343
Okmulgee District – 3508 / 12568
Tukvpvtce District – 1594 / 14482
Tulsa District – 3155 / 12921
Wagoner District – 810 / 15266
As you may see, the odds are against each district. Under the new system, it is now possible for a candidate to be elected to a district that literally nobody from that district wanted or voted for.