This article was originally published by Four Points Press on November 22, 2021.
The Crow Tribal Court on Friday issued an order temporarily stopping the Crow Tribal Secretary’s Office and the Crow Tribal Election Commission from holding a run-off election on Nov. 27 between Center Lodge District Legislative candidates Wacey Real Bird, Kenny E. Pretty On Top and Lloyd Hogan III.
Chief Judge Dennis Bear Don't Walk issued the restraining order Friday, Nov. 19, the day after Hogan filed a motion asserting the Crow Tribal Election Commission and the Office of the Secretary of the Crow Tribe acted outside of their authority to allow the "special election" after certification of the results from the Nov. 6 General Election held in Crow Agency
Hogan's TRO filing asserts the Election Commission acted outside of their prescribed duties when the commission voted to authorize, what was called a "special election" to determine the winner of the second available Center Lodge District seat.
The Crow Tribe's Election Commission's duties are listed in Article VI Sec 2 "Authority and Responsibility" of the Crow Tribal Election Ordinance.
"The Election Commission shall: (1) Promulgate all additional necessary rules and regulations, subject to approval by the legislature, with concurrence by the executive branches, necessary for the fair and efficient conduct of tribal elections; (2) Receive, inspect and distribute ballots to the district polling places on election day; (3) Canvass election results from all six districts; (4) Certify the final Tribal election results; (5) Hear all election contests; (6) Cross check voter lists to detect or prevent voter fraud; (7) Conduct recounts as necessary and if requested; and (8) The Election Commission when assembled must recognize the separate distinctive duties of Judges & Commissioners."
The Crow Tribe's District Election Judges duties are listed in Article V Sec 3 "Authority and Responsibility" of the Crow Tribal Election Ordinance.
"The District Election Judges shall: Oversee election day activities at the polling place(s); Protect the rights of voters at the polling place(s); Check voter qualifications; Determine challenges to voter qualifications at the polling place(s); Distribute ballots at the polling place(s); Assist persons with disabilities and/or language difficulties at the polling place(s); Collect and count ballots at the polling place(s); Enforce electioneering rules and regulations at the polling place(s); Return all cast, unused, and spoiled ballots to the Election Commission; and Verify the results of the district elections."
Hogan's filings goes on to further state only a candidate can contest the final results of a Crow Tribal election, not the Election Commission, which, he said in his filing, is what the Commission did when they met on Friday, Nov. 12 and voted to hold the second election. Crow election law states in Article IX Sec. 1 of the law, "Any candidate may contest the results of the election. A candidate contesting the results of the election shall prepare a written statement under oath setting forth his/her grounds and reasons and file the original with the Election Commission and a copy filed at the Secretary’s office."
The ordinance does not include specific language giving individual election judges or the Crow Election Commission authority to contest certified election results, Hogan wrote.
Real Bird, Pretty On Top and Hogan received between 23.27% and 24.78% of the vote share and each candidate within 1 percentage point of the other.
According to election ordinance, an automatic recount is required within two days of the completion of the canvassed and consolidated unofficial results. That recount was completed shortly after 5 p.m. on Sunday, Nov. 7. and the election results were certified after that count.
Official results were as follows: Cody Chief Child-Meeks, 283*; Lloyd Lind Hogan III (incumbent) 229*; Wacey Real Bird 228; and Kenny E. Pretty On Top 226.
Secretary of the Crow Tribe Levi Black Eagle's office released canvassed and consolidated unofficial election results for the general election during the early morning hours via social media, livestream and public postings at the polling location in Crow Agency.
Those results, which were time-stamped 1:45 a.m. Nov. 7., have been removed from the Office of the Secretary Facebook and Youtube pages. Preliminary general election results have been removed from the secretary's office Facebook page, but remain on the Youtube page.
Judge Bear Don't Walk is scheduled to hear the matter at 10 a.m. on Thursday, Dec. 2. at the Crow Tribal Courthouse.
Legislative candidate Cody Chief-Child Meeks was declared the winner of the other seats up for grabs in the Nov. 6 Legislative General Election.
Editor's Note: This developing story was updated at 4:50 p.m. to include more information including a temporary restraining order filed by Legislative incumbent candidate Lloyd Hogan III against the Office of the Secretary of the Crow Tribe and the Crow Election Commission.
Editor's Note: This developing story was updated at 10 a.m. to clarify that Legislative incumbent candidate Lloyd Hogan III file his motion for a temporary restraining order on Thursday, Nov. 18. and to correct final election result totals.