Last week, all three branches of the Muscogee (Creek) Nation government successfully traversed an election protection question, which provided swift and unambiguous direction for its citizens.
On Oct. 2, the nation’s Supreme Court nullified the Sept. 21 primary election following efforts to conduct a recount of absentee ballots. During the court’s oversight, justices found that there was no master record evidencing a chain of custody for absentee ballots and therefore there was no way to lawfully conduct a recount or certify the results of the election. The next day, the nation’s Election Board agreed to hold a new primary election on Nov. 2 in accordance with the court’s order.
A ruling of this magnitude is not without controversy or consequences. Many citizens have reached out to me to voice both approval and dissatisfaction. I understand these concerns, but speaking on behalf of the nation, I have a different perspective. I see the decisions by our Supreme Court and the Election Board as an example of our government working for our citizens.
Just as other democratic governments develop policy, procedure and law to protect citizens’ rights, so too does the Muscogee (Creek) Nation. Our Constitution, as well as applicable tribal election laws, are carefully crafted to establish a process which protects and insulates the nation’s citizens from election irregularities, interference and voter fraud. The Supreme Court order, and resulting Election Board action, provide clarity and affirmation to citizens that the nation’s elections are carried out in accordance with the nation’s laws and Constitution.
Above all, the recent actions demonstrate the resilience of the Muscogee (Creek) Nation’s governmental institutions during the most crucial process for a representative body. In implementing this Constitutionally grounded process, each of the three separate branches of government have distinct, Constitutionally defined, duties and obligations to fulfill. The executive branch holds fast its duty and obligation to uphold and abide by the Supreme Court’s decision. We will take all appropriate measures to ensure the integrity of the forthcoming primary election.
Like other governments, the Muscogee (Creek) Nation passes legislation and creates policy to provide social services, to promote economic development and to maintain public safety. We partner with and learn from our tribal, local and state governmental peers to leverage the best legislative and policy ideas for our citizens and neighbors. These networks allow the nation to serve broader community interests and to coordinate capital and human resources for the most effective results. It is through partnership and learned experience that the Muscogee (Creek) Nation has grown since our modern government’s Constitution was adopted in 1979. There is no doubt we will learn from this experience and continue to modernize our election code and procedures just as our peers identify new opportunities to protect the right to vote.
The upcoming primary is the result of sound governance and tribal sovereignty. Furthermore, the Nov. 2 primary is an opportunity for the nation’s government to demonstrate accountability to its citizens.
I support the work of the three Muscogee (Creek) Nation branches as each continues to carry out its constitutional responsibilities through lawful and transparent actions. As principal chief of the fourth largest tribal government in the United States, I remain dedicated to citizens of the nation and to safeguarding the continued strength of the Muscogee (Creek) Nation government.
James Floyd is principal chief of the Muscogee (Creek) Nation.