Published On: Tue, Apr 3rd, 2018

Tribal member gets candid about election experiences

 

Note: One Feather staff sat down recently with Mary “Missy” Crowe, an EBCI tribal member from the Yellowhill Community, who wished to express her thoughts and experiences with the tribal election process.  This is a transcription of that discussion. The One Feather has not attempted to verify or confirm or determine the accuracy of any factual or legal allegations made by Ms. Crowe and the things said in the interview are hers and hers alone.

 

ELECTIONS: Mary “Missy” Crowe (standing), an EBCI tribal member from the Yellowhill Community, shows election-related documents she’s gathered over the past several decades to Robert Jumper, One Feather editor, during a recent sit-down discussion on election issues she wished to comment on. (SCOTT MCKIE B.P./One Feather)

One Feather: Can you take us through your years of filing for candidacy? When did you first file to be a candidate? I believe it was for Tribal.

 

Mary Crowe: Yes. In 2003.

 

One Feather: And, since then, which elections have you filed in?

 

Mary Crowe: I filed in 2011 for the Principal (Chief). I filed in 2015 for the write-in Principal (Chief). Then, in 2017 I filed as a candidate for Yellowhill (Tribal Council).

 

One Feather: During that time, you’ve had various complaints about the election process. Could you elaborate on that a little bit?

 

Mary Crowe: I filed complaints with the election board. In 2003, I was getting calls from family members – I have a lot of family that live off-boundary from here all the way to California and all over the world, actually – and I had family members calling me and asking what’s going on? One of them was my brother-in-law in California who asked what was going on because he got something in the mail. He told me that it was a political mailing. It was an absentee ballot to vote in the elections. I asked him if he requested an absentee ballot and he said, “No, it just came in the mail.”

I asked what he did and he said he voted. I asked who he voted for and he said, “I voted for you and Bob Blankenship and mailed it back. So, I asked him if he would do me a favor and mail the other political whatever you got – propaganda or letters or whatever – and he said sure and he mailed it back to me.

I have a cousin named Bo Peep. She was sent one, and one of the things she told me when she married and moved away was that she had never registered to vote because she doesn’t live here. She never registered to vote.

In 2003, she got something in the mail. She registered to vote from our family in Big Y community, and she voted. But, she was very upset because she voted in the primary in 2003, but she wasn’t able to vote in the general election in 2003. She only voted that one time, from what she told me. She was very upset because the laws changed and she could no longer vote, even though she was registered.

These were two instances, and I asked them both to send me the information back, and they did. I have those documents. But, what happened then is that everybody else started getting those calls about the letters. So, Tribal  passed a resolution to do an investigation on where these political letters were coming from. Basically, the letters were telling our people who to vote for. Because, in the letters it said that these  members were trying to take away your right to enrollment, your per capita, and you need to register right now.

Right after the primary, the findings of that investigation came out and I have that complete investigation here. Tribal  had hired an attorney out of Waynesville – Mr. Ken Jones.

 

One Feather: You were talking about the registration in Cherokee County and throughout. Do you feel that at that point there were efforts made to get enrolled members who reside off the registered in certain communities?

 

Mary Crowe: What we see happened in this instance was that there was actually a direct letter from former Tribal  candidate Glenda Sanders from Cherokee County with her name on it, on tribal letterhead, that encouraged enrolled members to register in her county. The letter stated that she had noticed that they were not registered to vote. Well, how can you check if someone is registered to vote unless you compare it to something?

We know that you don’t do that in state elections. When you register to vote, they don’t care. They just take your ID and you register to vote. That was the case right up until 2003. We could come to the election board and register to vote. But, in 2003, these letters went out to…what we see, they got the enrollment list.

When I say, “they,” who? The investigation says that at that time former Tribal  representative from Yellowhill, Mr. Bob Blankenship, served as chairman of Tribal . He also served on the enrollment committee. The enrollment committee in 2003 was Bob Blankenship, Larry Blythe, Teresa McCoy, Tommye Saunooke, and Albert Crowe.

In the investigation, it says that Mr. Blankenship requested the enrollment list to verify his voter’s registration. In the investigation, it says that Ms. Nancy Maney denied his request and told Mr. Blankenship that if he wanted to update his voter’s registration he needed to go to the election board.

The investigation says that they questioned what the  asked for, and at that time it was Principal  Leon Jones. In the investigation there was a letter for a request for the enrollment list by Principal  Leon Jones. As you know, we are an at-will tribe, and if the  wants something and you’re a tribal employee, then you give it to him or you’re insubordinate and could lose your job. That’s how easy it is around here.

So, since the  requested it, Nancy gave it to the principal , but she gave it to him in protest. That’s what the investigation said. I appreciate Ms. Nancy Maney for trying to protect our enrollment.

In the investigation, it says that Mr. Blankenship got the enrollment documents from Principal  Leon Jones. They had contacted Premier Printing in Franklin, NC, to do the mass-mailing. What we find in the investigation was that they wanted it, apparently, on a disc, but Nancy, from what they said, gave it to them in a hard paper account.

So, Bob had to take that, download the list, and he had a deadline to get it to Premier Printing. In the investigation, unfortunately, he was having problems with his computer, so he went to a friend to ask if he could borrow his computer – that friend being Patrick Lambert. In the investigation, it says that Patrick Lambert allowed Bob Blankenship to use his computer and his hotmail address to send that mailing to Premier Printing so that they could get the timeline to meet their deadline to get it out. They had a deadline before the primary elections.

So, the investigation says that Premier got it, but they had to have a return mailing address. So, the investigation shows that Mr. Blankenship and former Chief Johnathan “Ed” Taylor rented a Mailboxes Etc. as the return mailbox for this mass-mailing. In the investigation documents there is a picture of Taylor using his North Carolina driver’s license and his Seminole Casino ID card to get the mailbox. So, they did the mailing.

About this time,  was getting mad.  had caught wind. You had elected and appointed officials, hired officials of the tribe that were in a position to manipulate the system. Once the other Tribal  members began getting the same questions that I was getting, they called an investigation and they hired Mr. Jones.

We had the primary election. And, in the primary election, I made the top four with Mr. B Ensley, Bob Blankenship, and Twidge Welch. So, we got ready to go into the general election, but during this time, Tribal Council called for an impeachment hearing on Mr. Bob Blankenship for his involvement in this.

The vote was already split. You have to have two-thirds vote to impeach someone…unfortunately,  did not have two-thirds vote… was split 6-6. Mr. Blankenship did not get impeached.

The general election came. Mr. Blankenship and B Ensley were the two top vote-getters in the general election. Mr. Ensley was the straight-out winner by about a hundred and something over Mr. Blankenship. Mr. Blankenship only beat Mr. Twidge Welch by one vote, and of course I came in fourth.

I love fair competition – may the best man win. My daddy always said to make it a level playing field. Well, unfortunately, it wasn’t a level playing field. I had a little bit of smarts and I tried to protest the primary election, but I was told that I could only file a protest after the general election.

So, as soon as the general election happened, there were six candidates, actually, who filed  protests through the election board, and they heard two – Ms. Brenda Long Norville’s out of Snowbird/Cherokee County on the illegal registration of absentee voters, and my protest to disqualify Mr. Bob Blankenship as a candidate for aiding and abetting someone found guilty of defrauding the tribe, and him holding hands with former impeached  Johnathan “Ed” Taylor, who is also a convicted felon, to manipulate our elections.

They upheld two protests – Brenda Long Norville’s and mine based on the evidence. I also protested the illegal absentee votes because of my brother-in-law, Mr. Dan Montelongo who had voted but couldn’t vote in the general election.

If you look at the decision of the election board, that’s what it says…that they denied my part on the absentee vote of my brother-in-law because he didn’t vote in the general! I was like, “OK,” but they did uphold my protest and disqualified Mr. Blankenship as a candidate, which was shocking to me. I was at home and a Cherokee Police Department officer hand-delivered the letter from the election board saying that the election board upheld my protest, they had disqualified Mr. Blankenship, and that there would be a re-election in Yellowhill within five working days between Mr. B Ensley, Twidge Welch, and myself.

We had the hearings at Ginger Lynn Welch. Brenda’s was first and I actually testified in her hearing. We noticed that my sister-in-law was registered in Cherokee County. Under the laws at that time, she was legally eligible to vote as an absentee voter. The law said that you or your parents had to live on trust lands and you had to register in the community that you or your parents had last resided in. Basic. Simple. We can live with that. My sister-in-law, Mary Esther, has never physically lived here. She was born and raised in California. We found her registered in Cherokee County. We found several of our relatives registered in Cherokee County. So, we testified in Ms. Brenda Long Norville’s (hearing) as family members who had found our family members down there.

Then, there was a 15 minute break. I went looking for coffee, came around the corner and I ran into five people in the hall. I was like, “Whoa! Pow wow! I didn’t mean to interrupt the pow wow!” There was Attorney General David Nash, and he was talking to Michell Hicks, Bob Blankenship, Glenda Sanders, Abe Wachacha, and Angie Kephart. I said, “Whoa! Sorry guys, I’m looking for some coffee. Where’s the coffee?” They told me it was around the corner.

This old girl goes around the corner, they’re having annual . I ran directly to . I hand-wrote a letter to the chairman – at that time, it was Albert Crowe – and said, “Please remove David Nash from my hearing, the attorney general.” This was an official hearing and he wasn’t supposed to be talking to anybody, especially those guys! I handed it to the door marshal and asked him to take it to the chairman. I had to get back over here and no one knew I ran to the house.

I got into the hearing and I immediately said, “I protest this protest hearing!” I told them that I wanted to know what Mr. David Nash, our attorney general, was doing out there talking with Mr. Blankenship. We were in an official protest hearing and he wasn’t supposed to be talking to anyone. He wouldn’t recuse himself. He said he would leave that up to the board. Well, the board said they like David, and I said I liked David too, but “I didn’t appreciate him out there. I’d like the stenographer to read back – you guys told him to go out there. What did you tell him to go out there for?”

The election board denied my request to have David removed. They would not remove Attorney General David Nash from my hearing. So, I wanted to be on the record that I protested that protest hearing because of him out there talking.

About that time, there was a knock on the door. Mr. Peewee Crowe was our vice- – he was serving as interim until we figured out the protest – and he called Mr. David Nash, the attorney general, out of the room, Mr. David Nash returned back in and called for a recess of the election board because he was being removed from my hearing. I thank God for the Tribal Council at that time. They took my letter, they took it seriously, and they removed Mr. David Nash from my hearing. He called for a 15 minute break so that he could find another tribal attorney to place in his stead.

When we came back into the hearing, Tribal Attorney Michael McConnell was the replacement tribal attorney for Mr. David Nash in my hearing. So, I proceeded on in basing my evidence and the election board upheld it and called for an election in Yellowhill and in Cherokee County/Snowbird within five working days. They upheld mine and Ms. Norville’s.

So, we are getting ready for a re-election and what happened? Next thing you know, I get a call saying, “Missy, they’re protesting and taking it to the Supreme Court.” I said, “Who?”….Michelle Hicks, Bob Blankenship, Angie Kephart, and Abe Wachacha. They grabbed their attorneys and they ran to our Cherokee Supreme Court. Lo and behold, the Cherokee Supreme Court overturns the election board’s decision and says to seat all the winners.

That’s what happened, and here I was sitting there going, “Ok, what happened?” Everybody went on, had inaugurations, and we said, “Whoa! Whoa! Whoa! What happened?” Well, myself, Brenda Norville, and Teresa McCoy went back in to lower tribal court to get the voters registration purged from what the election board had ruled in Ms. Long’s favor.

At that time, Attorney General David Nash continued and continued. Ms. Norville also had a piece of legislation in  to put the six criteria back and we had a referendum vote. Mr. Attorney General David Nash was telling Judge Philo, who also was the Supreme Court Justice who made the decision to seat the winners back in and was presiding over this court case…I’m not an attorney, nor were the other two, nor could we afford an attorney to fight them. We were just going based on the evidence that we had. Mr. David Nash, the attorney general, continued the case and kept telling the courts that Tribal  was working on it. Lo and behold, we went into a referendum and the people voted to put the six criteria back. Mr. David Nash goes in and says, “I move that we dismiss the case. The and the people made a decision.” Dismissed the case.

Nothing was ever done. Nothing was ever done about the illegal registration of those absentee voters in Cherokee County.

 

One Feather: When the court made the decision to not hold an election, do you recall what they said their justification was for it? Why did the court say they were not going to hold those elections?

 

Mary Crowe: This is what I heard, personally, when I was sitting there, because it’s embedded in my head. I heard Mr. Harry Martin Sr. say, “The Cherokee Supreme Court is not a fact-finding court. We’ve got our final election results. Seat the winners.”

There were several people in the Yellowhill Community who trusted me enough to vote for me and to put me in there to make it fair, and it wasn’t fair. This was in 2003. By the time all this was over with, we were coming to the end of 2004-2005 and I started having some personal stuff, so my fight wasn’t as strong as it used to be. That’s where we had to leave it.

But, I always kept up. I always kept my ear to the ground. And I’ll tell you what, it doesn’t matter where I’m at, it would get to me. Whether it was through the mail – which I told those boys I didn’t appreciate getting stuff sneaking up through our rural route boxes…what if it could’ve been something dangerous? We had seen that a lot in these elections.

I had to basically put my faith in the Good Lord and say, “If anything happens to ol’ Missy Crowe, this is where all this stuff is, and we’ll see you later.” I had to get to that point. My dad told me, “Honey, you’re messing with money. You’re messing with their pocketbooks. You be careful.” He wouldn’t let me go anywhere! You know what? I was threatened too, and I told my dad I wasn’t going to live in fear. I told my dad that he raised me better than that.

 

One Feather: We’re now 15 years removed from your first foray into the election process. You were involved in the last election as a write-in. Can you give us your impression of the process at that point? Were there any differences? And, what differences do you see from 2003 to now – positive or negative?

 

Mary Crowe: From 2003 to now, it’s negative. Because, in 2003 the election board was supposed to have purged those registered voters in Cherokee County. Now, in 2011, I threw my name in the hat for Principal . As soon as I got the voters registration in 2011, I noticed that Cherokee County still had over 487 registered voters. So, it was obvious that the election board had not purged those, even though that was their decision in Ms. Norville’s protest.

I immediately resigned myself to the fact that I paid $500 for the voters registration list, which would be my evidence. I got mocked. I got laughed at. And that’s fine because I know my abilities and I know my capabilities. And, when I see something that’s not right, I choose not to participate. I told them, we’re not going to win. So, we are going to collect evidence from here on out. That’s basically what I’ve been doing.

In that race, it was myself, Juanita Wilson, Gary Ledford, Patrick Lambert, and Michell Hicks.

After 2011, we started getting involved with the community on the illegal raises that the  and the s got. We called a community meeting and they selected three of us to serve as their signatory committee – Becky Walker, Lisa Montelongo, and myself.

So, we went to the election board and we found some serious discrepancies just by us being the signatory committee doing an official petition. We were actually doing a petition for the right to recall our elected officials – our and ours – by a certain percentage of signatures from those communities, and community-wide.

We met with the election board. They told us to bring in whatever signatures we got a little at a time so they can verify them and tell us how many more we needed. We thought, “Yay, election board! We are going to get this going!”

So, we cited the law, got their forms, started going out and getting petitions. Then we got a call from Patrick Lambert who had noticed that the law written on the petition was wrong and that it wasn’t cited by our election laws as to petitions. So, when we questioned the election board we got met by a wall.

So, we filed a public records request against them. That’s when I asked for everything. They had done an internal audit on the election board in 2010 which said that two percent of the registered voters didn’t have a valid registration card on file, which could alter an election. It also said that there were no policies and procedures, they had nothing.

I even requested that from chairwoman Denise Ballard of the election board….give me your administrative policies and procedures. I read that letter in 2015 and she wrote us and said that they have no administrative policies and procedures. They have no staff manuals. They have no training. All they have is the election ordinance and advice from the attorney, when needed.

We tried to get the correct law onto the petition. We submitted over 300-something names. That petition is actually still going. We can still do it. But what we were wanting the election board to guarantee us is that the 300-something names that we already submitted would be counted even though that law was never in the books. But they never would give us that letter to guarantee it. We asked for a receipt for the signatures. Their administrative assistant got the phone call record and wrote Becky a receipt for like 150 names.

I’ve got piles and piles of names, addresses, and phone numbers of people who have put it down that they are tired of this stuff. But, look what happens when we try to bring that forward as community members. There’s this plateau that we reach as community members. From the evidence that we have, they agree with us. But, what happens?

Then 2015 came. Guess what? My sister-in-law that I testified about in 2003, moved back home. She literally, physically moved to Cherokee…never lived here all her life. So, I said, “Sister, while you’re here, sign my petition. You’re a registered voter, right?” She said she was, but in California and New Mexico. I said, “You’ve never registered here?” She said, “No, I don’t think so.” I said, “Well, your name is on the voters registration list.” I went up and got my 2011 voters registration list and said, “Is this you?” She said, “Yeah.” So I said, “Will you go to the election board with me?”

So, on March 2nd, when everybody else is lining up to file for candidacy for s and , I was standing in front of the election board with my sister-in-law, who we testified in the 2003 election had been registered in Cherokee County. We asked them to pull her file where she was registered in Cherokee County. Now, mind you, she was the sister that was eligible to vote under that law, but she should’ve been registered in Yellowhill because that’s the last community her mother had lived in.

There was a sticky note on her file that said, “Moved to Yellowhill.” So, I asked her, “Sister, did you ask to be moved to Yellowhill?” She said, “I didn’t even know I was registered to vote.”

 

One Feather: Did you have a discussion with her because she got the mailings in 2003?

 

Mary Crowe: No. Honestly, this is the one sister-in-law that I’ve only met twice in my entire life.

 

One Feather: Had she received material election after election similar to what she received in 2003?

 

Mary Crowe: She moved. She even said that the address they had was one she hadn’t lived at in forever. She’s one of the sisters that moved a lot.

We were looking at Chairwoman Denise Ballard and she said that she wasn’t there in 2003.

So, from March 2nd to March 16th, I knew that I could not hand over $750 to the election board for a fair and equal election. I knew that. But, I also knew that I had to do something, so I looked in the laws. The laws says you can go as a write-in candidate after the primary. That’s in our election laws! So, I exercised that right and filed as a write-in candidate for Principal  in 2015.

The voters registration I received in 2011 was all nice and orderly and organized. The one I received in 2015 had missing pages in there. They gave it to me in alphabetical order. Between Cherokee County’s and Painttown’s there was one page…interesting, the name…that’s my cousin. So, I called my cousin and asked if he was registered to vote. He had just turned 18 in February of that year. I asked if he was a registered voter, they said no, and I asked, “What is his name doing on my voter registration list?” They said they verify it through enrollment. I said, “It was illegal then, and it’s illegal now.”

He is a registered voter. He is a registered voter…in Yellowhill.

So, I knew I wasn’t going to get a fair and equal election in 2015, so I filed as a write-in candidate. Once I got this (the voter registration list) again, I knew I didn’t have a snowball’s chance because of the manipulation and the money. We’ve seen it. So, I was sitting there figuring out what I needed to do, and Creator knew what I needed to do, so I needed to go in 2017.

In 2003 when I had my Yellowhill voters registration, I compared it to 2011, then I got my 2017 list. As a Yellowhill candidate in 2003 to 2017…what was interesting is that in 2015 as a write-in candidate, they said I didn’t get any votes in Snowbird. I had a lot of people come to me in Snowbird and say that they wrote my name down.

I protested the 2015 elections. I protested the violation of due process of the write-in candidacy. The election board was supposed to go into the communities and, I can show you where they went in for alcohol! Boy, they put all kinds of stuff where you can go vote, but for a write-in candidate, no one explained what to do.

Then, I protested my second piece to disqualify Patrick Lambert, just like with Bob Blankenship, for aiding and abetting someone found guilty of defrauding this tribe.

They’ve known about it – people that are appointed and elected and hired to uphold the basic laws that we have. We always hear that we need a constitution for the tribe but we’ve already got laws! Let’s amend what we’ve got. And they technically did that in 1999 when they passed a resolution that started our court system.

Just the basic rights that we already have, and the fundamental rights that we already have, were severely violated. Not just me, but every person – every enrolled member – that took it upon themselves to participate. I can’t say what other people’s intentions were when they filed for candidacy, but my intentions when I filed for candidacy were to lift my people up and to take us in that right direction. And, I think that I can prove that with everything that I’ve said and done over the past 25 years since I’ve been standing up and doing it. It wasn’t to be out here and be better than anybody. It was about trying to make it better for everybody.

My husband said when I got cancer, “Dig in your heels and fight.” My dad said when all this was going on, “Dig in your heels and fight.” I had to tell my kids, “Dig in your heels and fight.” Just to survive and make it to the next day, let alone all of this.

When I became that certified candidate, I went and talked to those tribal offices and let them know what I would like to see, if elected into those positions. But, I understood what the politics were. So, therefore, I had to take care of my peace, joy, and happiness. I’m just a community member, struggling, juggling, just like everyone else.

I try to explain to folks that I just happen to have a little bit of sense and knowledge to hang onto stuff and know what my rights are. It’s something I take honor in. In spite of not having all these degrees on the walls, I’ve been working all my life.

I want to start doing work here. I’ve been all over Indian Country and working in other communities, trying to help them organize and empower them because I get met with so much defiance when I try to do it in my homeland. But, we can organize. We’ve done it before! It’s just that fear that our people are in right now. We don’t know which way to go or what’s going to happen, because of all this. It’s hard for me to tell them to be patient and hold on, but that’s what I’ve done. I’ve been patient for about 15 years now and I don’t know where Creator is going to take me from here, but as long as I have a breath in my body, I’m going to continue to stand on the facts and the truth.

 

One Feather: You’ve talked about and documented the unfairness that you’ve experienced. What do you see as the fix? What’s going to make this right? What will change? What needs to change in order for fair elections to take place, in your opinion?

 

Mary Crowe: Several of us have already been doing research. We’ve been going around and pulling up different other tribes election laws and making references to those. What our tribe does a lot is we adopt a lot of things. But what do you do after you adopt it? They never wrote it into our law. Sometimes, to me it’s like putting a square peg in a round hole. It’s basic.

The manipulation got out of hand. That’s what you’re seeing today. I gave a disc of all this information right here to now-Principal Chief Richie Sneed prior to the 2015 elections. I’ve given everybody…I’ve told the Birdtown members and asked them why they were upset about the vote in Birdtown? I told them there was a female veteran who was illegally registered to vote. She asked them to take her off the voters registration list and they didn’t. They knew.

We do have some freshmen members who are willing to look at these documents and figure something out. We have already been going through looking at policies and procedures. For example: What happens if the tribe decides to do early voting? What are the procedures to that? And has the election board been trained enough to know what happens if they run out of early voting ballots? Do they cross out the absentee word and write in early? No. If they were trained and if we had policies and procedures, the procedure would be that the chairman would put a stop to early voting. They did that in the presidential election, during the early voting in the  Democratic primary. They stopped it. People were waiting in line for hours on those election boards to get ballots. That should’ve happened here. If we had had those policies and that procedure in place…in the event that they run out of ballots, you stop and go get some more. That’s basic. But where is it written?

 

One Feather: Do you feel that the policies and procedures that you’ve spoken to should be codified? Should it become part of the election ordinance?

 

Mary Crowe: Interesting what we’re finding with these ordinances. That some of these ordinances get tweaked to an extent. One of the things that we’re seeing is that we have to set forth what it is that is, basically, the election board’s power and authority? We’ve got to clarify that. We say that’s quasi-judicial powers, but what does that mean? When your election board stands in that like they did last week and talk like they did, do they look like they know what quasi-judicial powers are? Do you know what quasi-judicial powers are?

So, we have to understand what the election board’s true power and authority is. They have a lot of power and authority if you look at what an election board really should be. What are they doing? They’re certifying people to represent us. So, when you don’t have those, then they can certify anybody, or not! So, we have to establish that first. The people need to know what the power and authority of the election board is. What is their realm of power and authority? What is their duty and responsibility to that power and authority? What is their duty and responsibility with that power and authority. We need to establish that within our community now. And then it’s a trickle-down.

We don’t have to reinvent the wheel. Our election 161 is our election laws. They have been there and they have been manipulated and changed and what happened? After the 2015 elections, the election board comes in and wanted to amend the election laws. If you notice, they amended and changed when you can run as a write-in candidate because impeached   Patrick Lambert and successional  Richie Sneed stood there and said it just wasn’t fair. It wasn’t fair for Patrick Lambert that he worked so hard in the primary then somebody got right up there as a write-in. I was sitting at home going, “Fair? Fair?” That was a right given to me under the laws.

But, pull your election laws up and see what happened in 2017. Who ran as a write-in candidate in 2017? Albert Crowe in the primary in Birdtown. Really? I mean, great, but see how they changed the election laws and tweak it to fit their agenda?

 

One Feather: Do you feel that this is more of a procedural issue with the elections, or do you feel that there has been a conspiracy to keep certain people in and certain people out?

 

Mary Crowe: A conspiracy to keep certain people in and certain people out. It’s obvious if you’ve seen this last election in 2017. When I’m looking at what the election board in Birdtown did…if you look at the laws, the laws say that a candidate has a right for a recount and the election board should give a recount whenever it’s within the two percent. Right? That happened. Ms. Ashley Sessions got a recount so what happened after that recount? She won, right?

Well, what do the election laws say? The recount is final. But, what happened? It wasn’t final. So that’s a violation of our election laws. So, the election board made a decision. Really? What I saw from our election board, did they write these opinions? Read those decisions. The only attorney who has been sitting in every one of these decisions of the election board is Michael McConnoll. He was there in 2003 at my hearing. He was there in 2015 in my hearing representing the election board. The decision that I got from the election board I know came from Michael McConnoll. The election board agreed with it. They signed it.

Look at 2017, and that decision, it’s kind of ironic. Albert Rose had the right to file a protest. But you know just as well as I do that you’re supposed to have evidence. His evidence was what? The election board did what? They manipulated the early voting ballots so he had a legitimate reason, but he didn’t argue to the election board that they manipulated the ballots. You had Scott Jones representing Ashley Sessions and Robert Saunooke and Chris Sewers representing Albert. Now, where have we heard of these attorneys before? The last impeachment, right? So, you tell me…is there a conspiracy to keep certain people in and certain people out? Ashley Sessions should be your Birdtown representative because the election board can’t make the decision to recount every one of the candidates. They can only do it if the candidate requests it or it’s within that two percent. Because I asked them to recount for me to see how many people voted for a write-in candidate and they wouldn’t do it.

So, they made that decision on their own, didn’t they? Next thing the candidates knew everybody was recounting and they had all these discrepancies – somebody lost a vote, somebody gained 30 or 40. But, who was responsible for that? The election board, right?

Then, they called for a runoff? How come they didn’t put all four candidates back in there? Why just those two? I even said that B Ensley was the clear winner in mine, but they didn’t care. They said all three. Then how come those four didn’t?

The inconsistency because “I wasn’t there in 2003.” We had those policies and procedures, those rules and regulations. And to hear the chairman say, “Why don’t you come with solutions instead of arguing?” Hello! Hello? I did. I did.

 

Note: One Feather staff sat down recently with Mary “Missy” Crowe, an EBCI tribal member from the Yellowhill Community, who wished to express her thoughts and experiences with the tribal election process.  This is a transcription of that discussion. The One Feather has not attempted to verify or confirm or determine the accuracy of any factual or legal allegations made by Ms. Crowe and the things said in the interview are hers and hers alone.

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