Foot traffic at the Osage Congressional candidate campsites died down after the lunch hour, but steady streams of voters were still making their way to the polls after 1 p.m.
More than 15 people stood in the Congressional chambers lobby waiting for their ballots from Election Office staff and volunteers who manned the front door. Voters then took their ballots into the chambers, which had individual booth spots set up for voting.
Election Board Chairman Walter Hopper described poll movement as a “steady flow of people so far,” adding he expects more as the day continues and after more people get off work.
This year, 15 volunteers are helping the Election Office and board with various duties including greeting the public and checking the list for voter eligibility confirmation before handing voters their ballots.
The Election Office made an initial collection of mailed-in absentee ballots on Friday from the Pawhuska Post Office before making another collection at 10 a.m. this morning, Hopper said. The Election Office is following an amended election code (ONCA 11-40 approved by the Second ON Congress last year), which allows for the earlier pick-up to expedite the ballot counting which takes place today.
Hopper did not have an estimated time on when the unofficial election results would be announced after voting ends at 8 p.m. He also said the unofficial results are expected to be certified by week’s end.
At the candidate campsites, voters visited with candidates and their families as they stopped by the government campus.
Congressional candidate Linda LaZelle took advantage of the campus entrance roads to meet fellow Osages driving in to vote while election event staff guarded the 300-foot electioneering boundary marked by a single string fence. After lunch, LaZelle stood by the north campus entrance where she approached voting motorists, greeted them and handed out palm cards before they drove into the electioneering-free zone.
“It’s been a blast,” LaZelle said of campaigning for office while she greeted the vehicles. She said she also had three family members also stationed at other campus entrances to give voters her palm cards.
“You wonder if you answered enough questions, talked to enough people,” LaZelle said. “This election is just as great as the dances – you get to see everyone.”
Ron Shaw, who helped set up camp for his sister, candidate Rose Mary Shaw, said the campsite traffic was busy during the lunch hour before it started slowing down.
Informational booths also present
Staff with the Nation’s Strategic Planning and Grants Department set up a booth just to the north of the Congressional chambers. The location is within the electioneering perimeter, but the staff is greeting the public and sharing information about grant opportunities the public could apply for, said department director Jennifer Tiger.
The Osage Casino also has a booth within the boundary to inform interested people of employment opportunities at the Nation’s seven casinos.
Larry Sellers, who is active with the independent Friends of the Osage Language organization, set up a booth on the north side of the Osage Tribal Museum where the organization is selling T-shirts with the Osage Orthography. Sellers previously worked as a language teacher in the department.
Sellers said the organization, which helps support the Nation’s Language Department activities, is also selling raffle tickets for a cedar chest on display at the booth which are $5 each or three for $10. The winner of the cedar chest will be announced during the Dhegiha Gathering language conference July 31-Aug. 2 at the Quapaw’s Downstream Casino Resort.