Tsiigehtchic residents will take to the polls on March 11 to elect a chief and council, close to nine months after last summer’s chief election result was overturned.
Nominations are open for the positions until Feb. 11, and forms can be requested from chief electoral officer Mary Beckett at the Gwichya Gwich’in Band Office.
Beckett said she’s given out some forms but none had yet been filed by last Wednesday.
“It’s pretty early days so I would not expect to see them yet,” she said.
Last year’s June 18 election had Russel Andre winning the seat at 56 votes, followed by incumbent Phillip Blake at 55 votes.
The results were appealed by Blake, and an election committee voted unanimously to redo the election by early July.
Blake has remained chief in the interim.
Andre says he intends to run again. News/North was unable to reach Blake by press time.
Mail-in, online and phone-in voting will take place at the same time as in-person voting on March 11.
After Feb. 28, out-of-town voters who have addresses in the system will be sent notifications with the candidates and voter identification numbers, which they can use online or over the phone to verify their identity and allow them to vote.
Beckett says mail-in voters should contact the band office as soon as possible so that ballots can be sent out as soon as possible. In turn, they should also not delay on sending the ballots, to allow for possible delays in mail delivery on both sides.
Last year, band manager Larry Dalley said a reason behind this was that mail-in ballots were sent out too late to out-of-town voters, contravening the band’s election code.
“I wasn’t here and I have nothing to do with it so I can’t answer the really big questions,” Beckett said.
“I know that the procedures were not followed and that the election committee decided that there were enough problems with the way it was conducted that they would nullify it and start over.”
This year, Beckett intends to follow the community’s election code as close to the letter as possible.
“That’s the best I can do as, as a chief electoral officer.”
Each election in Tsiigehtchic has been controversial since 2014, despite the election code being rewritten in 2015.
Andre is currently in Hay River attending the Marine Training Centre, and will be running his campaign from afar.
He says he’s still unsatisfied with how the election results were overturned.
Spokespeople for both federal Indigenous Services Canada and territorial Department of Municipal and Community Affairs told News/North last year they don’t have authority over the election, as the band has its own custom code.