MCA discusses changes to Akwesasne Election Law
The Mohawk Council of Akwesasne created an Akwesasne Election Law working task group whose duty was to develop recommendations to amend the law. These recommendations were printed and distributed to the community on Sept. 12, 2011 with a focus meeting scheduled in each of the three districts under MCA’s jurisdiction. These public meetings were used to discuss the recommendations and to receive comments, suggestions, concerns and/or other recommendations for consideration. Once this was done the draft was once again brought before the MCA for another review before calling the document the final version of the proposed amendments to the law.
From the community consultation a suggestion was made to add an additional recommendation to the ‘candidate eligibility’ section. The current Akwesasne Election Law states that a member’s mother OR father need be enrolled First Nations members in order to be eligible as a candidate. It is suggested to change the candidate eligibility criteria to require an enrolled member’s mother AND father are enrolled members on a First Nations membership list.
Tonight, Thursday Nov. 10, there will be an MCA General Meeting held at the Snye Homemakers for 6:30pm in the District of Tsi Snaihne. One of the agenda items for this meeting will be to discuss which of these clauses will be included into the Final Version of the amended Akwesasne Election Law. After the discussion over what these clauses will mean, there will be a vote on the floor to decide which version to incorporate into the Final Version of the amended law. The Chief Electoral Officer will be present to verify that everyone voting is an eligible voter on the voters list prior to the vote taking place.
From this point the MCA will have their community direction on which clause to include into the Final Version of the amended Akwesasne Election Law. It will then be republished and printed in the Indian Time and read over CKON radio for at least two-weeks, which is a minimum timeframe allowed under the Akwesasne Election Law amendments section and is also a generally accepted practice for law enactment. After that phase is complete a Special General Meeting will be called to vote on whether to accept the Final Version of the Akwesasne Election Law into Akwesasne law.
Background on the Development of the Recommendations
The Working Task Group has been developing these recommendations since Aug. 2009 and have been drafting amendments to the current Akwesasne Election Law that was enacted through Mohawk Council Resolution (MCR #2005/06-192) dated Dec. 2005. In 2008 there had been an attempt to amend the Akwesasne Election Law through the draft titled, “Akwesasne Tehonnikiohkwakennies Election Law Revisions.” The community had voted down those revisions in Oct. 2008.
The main difference with these changes are that they focus primarily on the Court Orders that were issued based on the appeals to the General Election and By-elections in June 2006 and June 2009, and the subsequent By-Elections. With the current recommendations of amendments to the Akwesasne Election Law there were two revisions made beyond what was identified in the Court Orders, and they handle contradicting sections within the law.
The recommended amendments to the Akwesasne Election Law were then brought before the MCA for approval before it was brought before the community at a General Meeting. The purpose of bringing it forward at that meeting was to accept the draft in principle and to begin the community consultation phase. The entire document was printed and provided to the households within MCA’s jurisdiction, and it was also available to be picked up at the Mohawk Government Building, Administration 1 Building, Akwesasne Justice Department at the Angus Mitchell Memorial Building and in district convenience stores.
From that point the three public meetings, with one in each district were held and brings us up to date on the progression of this document. Further discussion of these proposed amendments to the Akwesasne Election Law will take place tonight at the MCA General Meeting – 6:30pm at the Snye Homemakers.