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Judge nullifies Leech Lake secretary-treasurer election

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news Bemidji, 56619
Bemidji Minnesota P.O. Box 455 56619

Leech Lake Band of Ojibwe Election Judge Heidi Drobnick ruled invalid Friday the June 28 special election that gave Donald "Mick" Finn the secretary-treasurer's position.

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The vote was certified by the General Reservation Election Board at 1,104 or 50.14 percent for Finn and 1,098 or 49.86 percent for Donald "Donnie" Headbird. Headbird petitioned for a hearing and discovery, which was set for July 14 at the Minnesota Chippewa Tribe Offices, on the election results.

Judge Drobnick found that Headbird had proved violations, which change who was the winning candidate. She ordered a new special election to be held in compliance with the Minnesota Chippewa Tribe Election Ordinance.

Issues raised in Headbird's contesting of the election included:

E Lack of cross tabulation by the General Reservation Election Board.

E Technical violations such as spoiled ballots, non-resident votes, non-Leech Lake votes, notary stamp irregularity and malfunctions of the tally on the automated machines.

E Absentee votes also voted at precincts.

E Cross-district votes.

E Discrepancy of counting absentee ballots between the official counting site and final printed vote tally.

E Election precinct officers and/or clerks vouching for voter identity.

E Voter intimidation through a false "firing list."

E Tribal program funds and gas vouchers used to influence votes.

According to Minnesota Chippewa Tribe Election Ordinance, the burden of proof of irregularities is with the person contesting the election, namely Headbird. Drobnick ruled that Headhad met his burden of proof that sufficient irregularities occurred and affected the June 28 vote.

If anyone seeks to appeal the judge's decision, the process must abide by Minnesota Chippewa Tribe Election Ordinance.

Leech Lake Band of Ojibwe Election Judge Heidi Drobnick ruled invalid Friday the June 28 special election that gave Donald "Mick" Finn the secretary-treasurer's position.

The vote was certified by the General Reservation Election Board at 1,104 or 50.14 percent for Finn and 1,098 or 49.86 percent for Donald "Donnie" Headbird. Headbird petitioned for a hearing and discovery, which was set for July 14 at the Minnesota Chippewa Tribe Offices, on the election results.

Judge Drobnick found that Headbird had proved violations, which change who was the winning candidate. She ordered a new special election to be held in compliance with the Minnesota Chippewa Tribe Election Ordinance.

Issues raised in Headbird's contesting of the election included:

- Lack of cross tabulation by the General Reservation Election Board.

- Technical violations such as spoiled ballots, non-resident votes, non-Leech Lake votes, notary stamp irregularity and malfunctions of the tally on the automated machines.

- Absentee votes also voted at precincts.

- Cross-district votes.

- Discrepancy of counting absentee ballots between the official counting site and final printed vote tally.

- Election precinct officers and/or clerks vouching for voter identity.

- Voter intimidation through a false "firing list."

- Tribal program funds and gas vouchers used to influence votes.

According to Minnesota Chippewa Tribe Election Ordinance, the burden of proof of irregularities is with the person contesting the election, namely Headbird. Drobnick ruled that Headhad met his burden of proof that sufficient irregularities occurred and affected the June 28 vote.

If anyone seeks to appeal the judge's decision, the process must abide by Minnesota Chippewa Tribe Election Ordinance.

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