Comanche Nation to vote on constitution changes

LAWTON, OK (KSWO) - Members of the Comanche Nation only have one week to register for an election to modify the tribe's constitution.

Three amendments are up for a vote. Currently, decisions are made by a group of 150 Tribal council members at the Comanche Nation's yearly meeting Amendment A would change that, instead putting all major decisions up to a vote of all 17,000 members of the tribe.

Comanche Nation Chairman William Nelson Senior said in his opinion, the growth of the tribe has made their methods of decision making outdated.

"The old adage of the annual meeting takes care of business, there's a lot of problems with that. 17,000 members are kind of disenfranchised just to a quorum of 150 people at the annual meeting. That's why we've come with this type of proposition for our people," Nelson said.

Nelson said if Amendment A passes, decisions can still be made at the annual meeting, but he said those decisions will not be final until they are voted on by the entire tribe.

"With 17,000 members and at least 11,000 being part of the supreme governing body, anyone over 18, we need to take the elements of the annual meeting to everyone living worldwide. Comanches live in Guam, Comanches live in Hawaii, there are two Comanches at the Winter Olympics," Nelson said.

Amendment B sets in stone qualifications to run for office in the Comanche Nation. All candidates would be required to have no criminal record, not owe the tribe money and cannot fail a drug test. Nelson said currently, the qualifications to run for office are very loose.

"What we did was make the qualifications more exact. That's all it is, the exactness of qualifications," Nelson said.

The election is being conducted by the Bureau of Indian Affairs, not the Comanche Nation. Because of that, the election is being held strictly on an absentee basis. Members must register to vote by Friday, March 2nd. At that time, they'll receive a ballot that they must return by March 20th. Nelson said members should have already received a registration packet in the mail but if not, there's still time.

"They need to call (877) 492-4988 so we can make sure they get a ballot to put in the mail, that's handled by the BIA. We will make sure their name and address."

There is also a third amendment, Amendment C, which would simply remove the title of "Chief Executive" from the Chairman's duties. Nelson wished to not comment on this amendment because it would directly affect his position so he does not wish to offer an opinion in one way or the other.

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