OKMULGEE, Oklahoma – The 2021 election for the Muscogee (Creek) Nation National Council Seat B has concluded and resulted in changes to four Districts to the National Council as well as reseating four incumbents.
Each of the 11 counties within the reservation are represented by two Representatives known as Seat A and B in eight Districts with 16 total MCN National Council Representatives that make up the legislative branch of the Nation.
These Representatives are responsible for making decisions on behalf of the Muscogee (Creek) citizens of the district.
Representatives casts their votes on bills in their respective committee and in the Regular Session typically held on the last Saturday of each month.
Each and every election tends to have its own distinct characteristics.
MCN Election Board Manager Nelson Harjo Jr. appeared on Mvskoke Radio to discuss final numbers and distinctions of the Seat B election.
Harjo is not a member of the Election Board but manages operations for the board and elections.
According to Harjo, voting numbers tend to be low and this can be seen in National elections as well.
Voter turnout is usually lower in these types of elections than in a Principal Chief election, Harjo claimed.
“If you look at this past presidential election for example, where there were record breaking numbers versus other presidential elections in the past, it’s still very low for the amount of registered voters that there are across the country,” Harjo said. “It’s not just a Creek Nation problem, it’s a voting problem that we are seeing in general for everybody.”
Harjo claimed out of the estimated 90,000 enrolled Muscogee (Creek) citizens, about 18,000 are registered to vote and of that 18,000 less than 3,000 voted in this past election.
Data collection by the board showed that the highest number of the votes cast were absentee ballots.
Harjo said the high absentee numbers could possibly be a result of the ongoing pandemic.
According to Harjo, the Election Board had an opportunity to engage in research with the Carter Center a few years ago. An institution that peer reviews elections across the country and even internationally.
“Out of all the studies that are out there, there is not really one smoking gun solution to voter participation,” he said. “People vote for different reasons; those reasons vary dramatically from individual to individual why they do or do not participate in elections.”
Harjo claimed even experts are stumped as to why citizens do not exercise their right vote.
He stated the MCN Election Board has discussed developing a survey in hopes of gathering information for Muscogee (Creek) citizens that will help determine factors regarding voter participation and help develop strategies to improve the election board and process.
“I can’t give you a definite date of when these things will happen but they are going to take place,” Harjo said. “I think it will happen sooner than a lot of people expect.”
The COVID-19 pandemic has been a struggle in outreach for the MCN Election Board Harjo claimed.
“We had started a very aggressive campaign in back in 2018 and 2019, with going out to all of our communities to different facilities and different locations throughout our tribe,” he said. “I think we had done more out of state outreach to our at-large citizens then we have ever done in the past but whenever COVID came around it really shut down our outreach schedule.”
Harjo said he along with Board hope to move forward and get more outreach opportunities scheduled.
For updates on future outreach events and information on how to register to vote as a Muscogee (Creek) citizen follow MCN Election Board on their Facebook page or call their office at: 918-732-7631.