Tribal council to hold new elections
Posted: 1/9/2007

The Pyramid Lake Paiute tribal council has decided the Dec. 30 election was not valid and will have new elections in March.

"It was determined by the council that there was a violation by allowing a tribal member a ballot, but he was not listed on the qualified voters list," Tribal Chairman Norm Harry said.

The tribal council also determined there was a second violation because an incumbent council member who was running for office also was serving on the election board.

"In all fairness, the council determined we had to correct the wrong," Harry said.

Mervin Wright Jr., the tribe's environmental director, said he was prepared to be sworn in as chairman at last Friday's tribal council meeting. Wright said he won the race against Harry by 40 votes. Harry had finished a two-year and was seeking re-election.

"It was one vote," he said. "The margins of victory were so wide that that one vote wouldn't have made a difference in any of the races."

'Disappointing' error

The tribal council approved the list of eligible candidates and the voter's list before the election, Wright said. The person who was ineligible to vote was a candidate for tribal council, he said.

"For the council to approve the qualified candidates, it implies that every candidate is a qualified voter," he said. "Don't ask me why they missed it. But it was an error that was made. It's pretty disappointing."

Harry and Wright said they plan to run again.

The ballots also had to be counted by hand after the electronic voting machine did not arrive because of bad weather in New Mexico, Harry said.

Of the 466 qualified voters, Harry said 306 members voted. There were "three spoiled ballots and nine questionable ballots," he said.

Harry said there are some who are saying the tribal council's decision was for his benefit. However, he said it is his responsibility as top administrator to make certain the tribe's ordinances, policies and procedures are being followed.

"I think they were disappointed," he said. "The bottom line is it just created this cloud of maybe distrust. I don't think it would be intentional, but it creates a cloud."