Proposed PITU Constitution Amendments – 2024

Introduction

The Paiute Indian Tribe of Utah is seeking feedback from all Tribal members on proposed amendments to the Constitution of the Paiute Indian Tribe of Utah.

The Constitution is the core governing document for the Paiute Indian Tribe of Utah following the Paiute Restoration Act of 1980. The Constitution includes several important sections that govern how the Tribe functions, such as who is eligible for Tribal enrollment, the make-up of the Tribal Council and its powers, Tribal elections, and use of Tribal lands. The power to change the Constitution comes from the people.  The Constitution has not been amended since 1997.

In order to make any changes to the Constitution, a “Secretarial Election” must be held where eligible Tribal members vote on the amendments. A Secretarial Election is a standalone federal election carried out by the Bureau of Indian Affairs and held by mail. It is a separate election from Tribal or Band elections as well as state and national elections. Eligible voters must register to vote in each Secretarial Election every time. When the Secretarial Election is held, at least 30% of the registered voters must participate for it to be valid. If there are enough participants, then the vote of those participants decides if an amendment passes or fails.

The Bands have been developing potential amendments to the Constitution, including seeking input from individual Tribal members. Thanks to active participation, over thirty (30) proposed amendments were developed. Bands have sought out feedback from Tribal members to help narrow down these proposals.

To view a PDF of the above information, click here.

To see the current Constitution as amended in 1997, click here.

Tentative Timeline for PITU Secretarial Election

July 1, 2024: Deadline for Band Meetings to be completed.

  • The Bands will complete Band meetings and provide results to the Tribal Council regarding chosen amendments or amendments with the most votes.

July 31, 2024: The Tribal Council will work with legal counsel to compile amendments from Bands.

August 30, 2024: Public information on proposed ballots and electronic survey goes live.

September 30, 2024: Public information sessions on proposed ballots.

November 1, 2024: Deadline to Complete Electronic Survey.

November 8, 2024: Results of Electronic Survey Released.

December 1, 2024: The Tribal Council approve final ballot language based on survey results.

December 15, 2024: The Tribal Council submits final ballot language to BIA for technical assistance and feedback.

January 31, 2025: Anticipated receipt of BIA feedback.

February 28, 2025: Revise and resubmit as needed.

Submitting the Secretarial Election Request

March 1, 2025: The Tribe prepares FINAL proposed ballot(s) based on the feedback from Bands and individual Tribal members.

March 1, 2025: The Tribe compiles an Adult Tribal Membership List in required electronic format.

  • This list will be the basis for the Eligible Voters List. It must include all tribal members who will be 18 years of age or older within 120 days of the date of the request for a Secretarial Election.

March 1, 2025: Tribe adopts a Resolution Requesting Secretarial Election. Tribe submits the Request for a Secretarial Election to the BIA along with the list.

March 2025: BIA Receives the Request and list. BIA conducts a Review of proposed amendment(s).

  • Office of the Solicitor reviews and provides feedback on whether any provision is or may be contrary to applicable law.
  • Notification is provided to the Tribe of the feedback and what changes may be needed.

April 2025: The Tribe updates proposed ballot language based on the feedback (if needed) and resubmits to the BIA.  This process continues until Authorizing Official can approve as “not contrary to applicable law.”

  • If the Tribe does not make required changes, the Authorizing Official will not approve Secretarial Election results ratifying provisions that are contrary to applicable law.

Conducting the Secretarial Election

The Secretarial Election must be completed in 90 days: May 1, 2025 – July 30, 2024

May 1, 2025: The BIA Authorizing Official issues a memorandum to local BIA Official to call and conduct a Secretarial Election within 90 days.

A Secretarial Election Board is appointed. It is made up of a local BIA employee as the Board Chair and two Tribal members appointed by the Tribe.

The Secretarial Election Board meets within 5 days of appointment and sets the Secretarial Election date. (The Secretarial Election date must occur within 90 days of the notice from the BIA Authorizing Official.) Once set, the other deadlines can be established by the Secretarial Election Board and included in the Notice.

The Secretarial Election Board is responsible for conducting the Secretarial Election:

  1. Assembles and mails the Secretarial Election Notice Packet out at least 30 days (but not more than 60 days) before the date of the Secretarial Election to all persons on the Eligible Voters List.
  2. Confirms that registration forms were received on or before the deadline date.
  3. Develops the Registered Voters List and posts in public places.
  4. Resolves any challenges to the Registered Voters List by the close of business on the third day after the challenge deadline.
  5. Prepares the official ballot(s).
  6. Mails out ballots to all Registered Voters.
  7. Ballots received by the deadline will be counted under the supervision of the Secretarial Election Board.
  8. Determines whether the percentage of Registered Voters who cast votes meets the requirement for voter participation. (Federal law requires at least 30% voter participation.)

Following the Secretarial Election

TBD 2025: The Secretarial Election Board Certifies the results of the Secretarial Election. Challenges of the results must be received by the Secretarial Election Board Chair within 5 days after the results are posted.

TBD 2025: The Chair of the Election Board transmits all documents pertaining to the Secretarial Election to the BIA Authorizing Official.

TBD 2025: The BIA Authorizing Official reviews election results and challenges. If alleged errors would invalidate the Secretarial Election and the challenges are sustained, the Authorizing Official can authorize a recount or call for a new election. If challenges are denied or dismissed, the Authorizing Official Tribe and BIA Director of the outcome.

TBD 2025: The Authorizing Official sends the original documents to the Tribe and a copy to the BIA Director.

TBD 2025: If the certified results show Tribal members ratified the documents, but the Authorizing Official did not approve of disapprove by the 45th day after the date of the Secretarial Election, the documents are considered APPROVED.

To view a PDF of the this entire timeline, click here.

Frequently Asked Questions

During the Survey Process

Why is this happening?

  • The Constitution is an important document that has not been amended since 1997. The Tribal Council wants input from Tribal members to determine what issues and questions should go on the ballot.

What if I want to put forward my own amendments?

  • Tribal members always have the option of requesting a Secretarial Election through a petition process.

What is the deadline for answering the survey?

  • Your response is requested by November 1, 2024.

During the Secretarial Election Process

What is a Secretarial Election?

  • A Secretarial Election is a federal election conducted by the Secretary of the Interior (through the Bureau of Indian Affairs) under a Federal statute or Tribal governing document.

Why do we need a Secretarial Election to amend the Constitution?

  • Article XVI of the Paiute Indian Tribe of Utah’s Constitution requires a Secretarial Election for amendments.

Who pays for the Secretarial Election?

  • A Secretarial Election is a Federal election, so Federal funding will be used to cover the costs of the election. Tribes can choose to use Tribal funds for non-Federal personnel to respond to the needs of the Tribal government during the Secretarial Election.

Who can vote in a Secretarial Election?

  • Enrolled, adult Tribal members who are on the Registered Voters List can vote in the Secretarial Election.

How do I get on the Registered Voters List?

  • Eligible Tribal members (who will be 18 years of age or older on the Secretarial Election date) on the Eligible Voter List can register to vote in the Secretarial Election. If you register to vote, the Secretarial Election Board will include you on the Registered Voter List

I registered to vote, but I did not see my name on the Registered Voters List.

  • You can submit a challenge in writing to the Secretarial Election Board by the established challenge deadline.

I’m an enrolled adult Tribal member.  Can I vote?

  • Only persons on the Registered Voters List can vote in the Secretarial Election.

Do I need to register if I am already on the Tribal Voter List?

  • Only persons on the Registered Voters List can vote in the Secretarial Election. Being on the Tribal Voter List does not mean that you are on the Registered Voters List.

I’m on the Eligible Voters List.  Can I vote?

  • Only persons on the Registered Voters List can vote in the Secretarial Election. If you’re on the Eligible Voters List, you should be receiving a registration form.

I’m not on the Eligible Voters List.  Can I register to vote?

  • Only those persons on the Registered Voters List can vote in the Secretarial Election. Only those persons on the Eligible Voters List can register.  It is the Tribe’s responsibility to compile the Eligible Voters List. Notify the Tribe if you weren’t included on the Eligible Voters List and you believe that you should be.

Can I vote online?

  • The Secretarial Election will be conducted by mail and not online.

Can I vote in person?

  • The Secretarial Election will be conducted by mail and not in person.

Can the Secretarial Election be held at the same time as the Tribal Election or State or National elections?

  • Yes, a Secretarial Election can be held at the same time. However, the Secretarial Election Board will try to avoid scheduling them at the same time to avoid confusion.

What if a ballot fails?

  • If a proposed ballot does not get enough votes, then it does not pass, and that amendment does not go into effect.

To view a PDF of the above FAQ document, click here.