Frequently Asked Questions on the constitutional amendment vote
April 22, 2016
Q: If the GRIC Governor and Lt. Governor are unable to serve their terms and the Community Council members chosen to replace either position have soon-to-be expiring terms, what action would be taken?
A: That decision would be left to the GRIC Community Council as described in the Constitution. It would be recommended that a Community Council member, who could fulfill their term, be selected for either position. If the selected Council member could not fulfill the term of Governor, then Council would select another Council member to serve the position until the next election.
Q: What is the total number of enrolled members in the Gila River Indian Community?
A: The certified membership count as of Dec. 31, 2015 is 21,814.
Q: When was the last time the Gila River Indian Community Constitution was amended?
A: In 2013 the Community voted to amend the Constitution to remove the Secretary of the Interior from future Constitution amendment elections.
Q: What is the benefit of removing the Secretary of the Interior from the Ordinance and Resolution approval process?
A: The amendment would prohibit the Secretary of the Interior from having authority to reject Community laws that are enacted by the Community Council. This allows the Community to exercise greater sovereignty and self-governance over its own affairs. This kind of amendment has been enacted by many other tribes, and is recommended by the BIA.
Q: Why do Council members only need to have high school degree or a GED to qualify for their respective seat?
A: This proposed amendment is a balance between requiring Council members to have an education requirement, without restricting many Community members, including elders, from running for Council who may not have obtained a college degree.
*Community member comments taken from TCRP surveys.
1. “I hope there will be more of a requirement than HS/GED because a community should be run by educated Community members.”
2. “Some individuals are smart culture wise – fair, honest – correct way of discussion.”
3. “The qualifications of councilman need to be addressed. Our leaders should not be held to only have a high school diploma or GED. They are uneducated and that’s why they make the bad decisions they do. They should all have masters or at the very least a bachelors.”
4. “They can still go ahead and get a college degree but I like the high school diploma or GED of a sort of training. But still, there are people that didn’t have a GED did well about running things too.”
Q: If the proposed constitutional amendment for ARTICLE VIII – TENURE OF OFFICE ARTICLE X-ELECTIONS is passed, when would the increased terms of Council, Governor, Lt. Governor, Chief Judge and Associate judges from three years to four years, take effect?
A: The increased terms would all take effect in 2017.
Q: Did GRIC Community Council visit all seven districts before they voted to move forward with this Special Election?
A: Yes, GRIC Council visited all seven districts during each of their respective district meetings.
Q: If the proposed constitutional amendment for ARTICLE VII-APPOINTED OFFICIALS AND COMMITTEE MEMBERS is passed, when would the new term of the Community Council Secretary begin?
A: The term would begin with the next Council Secretary term starting in June 2016.
Q: Will all committee member’s positions be extended to four years if ARTICLE VIII-TENURE OF OFFICE ARTICLE X-ELECTIONS, is passed?
Q: How will residency be verified for candidates running for Council?
A: Residency is currently verified for all candidates by requiring candidates to sign a notarized oath stating their address.
Q: What if a Community Council member, from a district with only one representative, is next in line of succession for Governor?
A: When a Community Council member is selected to fill the vacant Governor position, that Community Council position will be vacant until the next Governor is elected at a regular or special election.
Q: Will information about the proposed constitutional amendments be included in the ballot?
A: Yes, the information will be available at the polls.
Q: Will information on the proposed constitutional amendments be provided in traditional languages?
A: Yes, there is a video in O’otham on www.GRICNEWS.org about the constitutional amendment vote.
Q: What are the specific duties that will be assigned to the Treasurer?
A: According to Article VII:
Section 2. The Treasurer shall be bonded and shall be responsible to maintain the Community’s assets as direct by the Council with recommendation from the Governor.
Section 3. The Treasurer shall cause all Community’s records to be audited on an annual basis by Certified Public Accountants.
Section 4. At the direction of the council, the Treasure may inspect and cause to be audited all records of the Community and all its entities.
Section 5. Qualifications and additional duties and responsibilities of the Treasurer shall be established by the Council.
Q: What other voting options are available for those living outside of the Community or serving in the Military?
A: GRIC registered voters unable to VOTE in person at a polling place on Election Day can vote by Absentee Ballot; Absentee Ballot voting opens April 12 and closes May 2. Absentee Ballots are available with either your District Judge or the Tribal Elections Office.
Q: What identification is needed at the polls?
A: You can use your Tribal Identification Card, State Identification Card, or State Drivers License.
Q: What is the Tribal Constitution Reform Project (TCRP)?
A: The TCRP was created when the Gila River Indian Community passed Resolution GR-53-06 on April 19, 2006. A task force was created to gather information from all Community members, inside and out of the Community’s boundaries, in order to find out the top concerns GRIC members had with the Community’s current Constitution.
Q: How many GRIC Community members are registered to vote?
A: There are over 6,000 registered voters.
Q: How many registered voters must participate in the Special Election for it to be deemed valid?
A: To be a valid election, 30 percent of all registered voters must participate in the Special Election.
Q: Why are we just hearing about the amendments now? Why did we not have meetings to discuss this?
A: On February 17, 2016 the Community Council approved a resolution to hold a special election for the proposed amendments on May 3, 2016.
Q: Why are Community Council members changing their terms from three years to four years? It seems self-serving.
A: Of the 139 people surveyed in District 1 through 7, Urban Members Association, Los Angeles and San Francisco, 91 (66%) people liked the changes of the lengthened terms, 27 (19%) did not like the changes, and 21 (15%) did not answer.
*Community member comments taken from TCRP surveys.
1. “Why should term limits be lengthened when they have enough time to do it if they’re working hard enough?”
2. “Sometimes long terms not good especially if everything goes wrong continues to go wrong.”
3. “Regarding ‘term limits’ – more years for Council to be representing.”
4. “Give longer term limits for Council, three years is not long enough.”
Q: Why is GRIC “re-writing the Constitution?” [I believe] amendments should be attachments to the original constitution. People are not given attachments, so it appears there have never been any changes even though it was communicated changes to the constitution were done in the 1970’s and again in 2013.
A: The proposed amendments would have the effect of adding, deleting and replacing certain constitutional language. This process has already been done in prior amendments to the GRIC Constitution, including the 2013 election that deleted the Secretary of the Interior from future Constitution amendment elections, and added language giving the Community complete control over that election process (having the effect of “re-writing” that constitutional provision).