Elections Code revisions coming, community vote ahead

OHSWEKEN — Six Nations Electoral Officer Steve Williams presented to the Six Nations Elected Council. The current Election Code says when a vacancy occurs within four months of a General Election the council can opt to, instead of holding a by-election, call a General Election.

The council heard Steve Williams share that the decision comes down to cost. The cost for the last by-election was $25,000. The cost of the previous general election was about $50,000.

Costs for a pending by-election are set aside.

The discussion comes after the passing of Wray Maracle, elected councillor for District 4.

Current District 4 Councillor Helen Miller said she wanted to see a by-election take place because she needs help.

Williams said a decision on whether or not to hold a by-election needs to be made within 5 business days of the vacancy.

Williams said the proposed dates for Nominations for the coming General Elections is October 5, 2019. Proposed dates for November 2 to hold an advance poll and voting on November 9, 2019. The new proposed dates include an additional week for candidates to campaign.

SNEC Councillor Mark Hill raised concerns that the cost of a by-election added to leaving a space of only 6 months prior to the next General Election doesn’t leave the next councillor much time participate in the council.

Council voted to accept the proposed dates for the next General Election and opted not to call a by-election to fill the second seat in District 4. The second seat for District 4 will remain vacant until the next General Election which will allow for the proposed changes to the Election Code to be implemented.

Williams also presented SNEC with a copy of the results of the Elections Code research done by the Election Code Committee for proposed revisions coming in 2019.

The survey asked 6 questions about the way band members hope elections can go in the future.

On the question of districts: 52% waned one large voting district, while 30% wanted to see a reduction in districts and just 18% of respondents wanted to keep the same six districts.

An overwhelming 59% of residents wanted to reduce the number of councillors. Just 22% wanted to see SNEC keep 12 councillors and 19% wanted to see an increase.

It was a near three way tie on the question of if councillor terms should increase, decrease or stay the same.

A majority, 44%, wanted to see a two-term limit on person’s elected to council.

Perhaps the most staggering responses were on the question of Education requirements: 90% of respondents wanted to see a minimum high school diploma or equivalent for those who want to seek a position on the council.

A near unanimous result, 97%, came back on whether or not Six Nations should establish an Integrity Commission. The Commission would include a Code of Conduct and Oath of Office for Councillors.

The Election Code Committee says they are drafting a revised Elections Code and are still accepting last chance feedback up until April 15.

The final decision on the proposed changes to the Six Nations Election Code lay in the hands of the band members of Six Nations. The committee says SNEC has no overriding authority on whether or not to implement the changes, meaning if the new code is not acceptable the former 1995 version will remain in effect.

Voting will be held at Victoria Day, Bread and Cheese festivities on May 20. There will also be an advance poll on May 11 at Dajoh Youth and Elders Centre.

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