Note: The One Feather has had several requests by EBCI tribal members for a quick link to the Cherokee Code section dealing with Referendums. Below is Cherokee Code Section 161-9 in its entirety.
Purpose. A referendum is the people’s ability to refer newsy enacted law by petition, from the legislation to the ballot for final approval. The following rules shall apply,
Initiative shall mean the right and procedure by which citizens can propose a law by petition and ensure its submission to the electorate.
Referendum shall mean the submission of a proposed public measure or actual statute to a direct actual vote.
A referendum/initiative issue shall only be established by resolution of the Tribal Council, duly ratified by the Principal Chief.
A referendum initiated by Tribal Council does not need a petition.
A referendum/initiative shall require a petition of:
25 percent of the registered voters to petition the Tribal Council for a resolution for a referendum/initiative election on a proposed ordinance or action by the Tribal Council or Principal Chief.
33 percent of registered voters to petition the Tribal Council for resolution for a referendum/initiative election on a proposed change to the Charter or Governing Document.
The petition requirement shall not apply to any resolution or issue properly before Council, which Council, on its own initiative presents to the Cherokee people for referendum vote.
51 percent of registered voters must vote in a referendum/initiative election before the proposed amendment to the Charter or Governing Document shall be enacted or repealed.
If a majority of the voters voting in a referendum/initiative election are in favor of the enactment or repeal of an ordinance or resolution, provided that at least 30 percent of registered voters have voted in such an election, the ordinance or resolution shall be enacted or repealed. No action undertaken by this procedure shall be overturned by Tribal Council.
A petition shall be on a form provided by the Board of Elections and shall include the designation of three signatories as the Petitioner’s Committee; signature lines for the names, addresses and enrollment numbers of supporters of the petition; and a full explanation of the proposed action sought by referendum including the full text of the proposed action. This proposed legislation shall appear on all signature sheets.
The petition shall be submitted to the Board of Elections in order that the information listed on the petition is verified. Only registered voters shall be counted in this process.
Each resolution for referendum shall be in the full text form of the proposed action. Before the issue is presented to the Cherokee people for a vote, the text of the question shall be reviewed by the Office of the Attorney General and finally approved by the Tribal Council and the Principal Chief to ensure that the question for vote adequately and clearly informs the voter of the question to be answered, is limited to one question at a time, and encompasses only one issue per question.
All registered voters shall be eligible to vote on a referendum issue.
Referendums for any purpose of this Section shall be conducted by the following procedures:
The Board of Elections shall schedule a referendum election for any purpose other than that of modifying the Charter and Governing Document to be held within 90 days of ratification of the resolution.
Within 10 business days of ratification of the resolution the Board of Elections shall give public notice or the upcoming referendum by advertising in the Cherokee One Feather, Graham Star, and Cherokee Scout and by mailing all eligible voters. The public notice shall contain an election schedule which shall notify ail voters of the date of the election, the question to be voted on and the date in which the voter registration rolls will close.
The Board of Elections shall close the voter registration books 30 days prior to the referendum election.
The Board of Elections shall appoint all election officials within ten days of the ratification of the resolution for referendum. The Board shall conduct an orientation for precinct officials prior to the election.
The Board of Elections shall issue ballots for referendum in accordance with the absentee ballot application process pursuant to the procedures set out in this Section.
Persons desiring to vote by absentee ballot may begin applying for such ballot immediately after receiving notice of the referendum election and all applications must be submitted by at least 15 days prior to the election.
Absentee ballots shall be given or mailed to the prospective voter by the Board of Elections beginning 15 days following the ratification of the resolution for referendum. All absentee ballots for referendum must meet the same criteria for any other election and must be returned to and received by the Board of Elections ten days prior to the referendum election.
The outcome of the referendum vote shall be certified by the Board of Elections and shall be a binding action or law duly passed and ratified by the Principal Chief.
Any protest regarding an election irregularity shall be conducted according to the procedures set out in the current law. (Tribal Election Law Section 161-16).
An issue that has been brought before the eligible voters and voted upon by referendum/initiative may not be voted upon again until a period of five years has passed.
(Ord. No. 409, 8-25-2008; Ord. No. 216, 9-30-2010)