Thursday, June 25, 2020

Tribal Chair: 'Huge Discrepancy' in Hoopa Election Results Being Referred to U.S. Attorney, Sheriff's Office for Investigation

Posted By on Thu, Jun 25, 2020 at 5:15 PM

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Hoopa Valley Tribal Chair Byron Nelson Jr. said in a statement today that a recount of election results “indicated a huge discrepancy in the number of calculated votes” for one district and findings suggest “individuals and potentially groups of individuals have engaged in efforts to manipulate election results.”

The matter, he said, will be referred to the U.S. Attorney’s Office and Humboldt County Sheriff’s Office “for further investigation and action to hold the responsible parties accountable.”

“The General Election of the Hoopa Valley Tribe June 16, 2020 unofficial results were calculated wrong,” his statement reads. “As a result of recounting the Norton Field District election ballots, the Hoopa Valley Tribe declared Arnold ‘Deacon’ Ferris the official winner of his District.”

According to a Two Rivers Tribune story republished on the Redheaded Blackbelt website in collaboration with the paper, Ferris formally requested a recount on June 18 due to the three-vote margin in the race between him and Ryan Jackson, a former tribal chair, as well as other potential issues.

A June 23 recount found Ferris won by 80 votes.

“Yes, we are all angry that something as sacred and personal as our right to vote was tampered with. I am encouraging us all to focus on the solution, not the problem. We’ve spent enough time pointing fingers and tearing one another down. I would like to focus on the obviously broken system that would allow such blatant cheating,” Ferris told the Two Rivers Tribune. “Obviously, election reform has been added to my ever-growing list of priorities. One member’s vote being tampered with or uncounted is one too many in my opinion.”

He also thank Jackson for his service and wished him and his family well.


The Two Rivers Tribune reported the election board chair resigned her post one day prior to the recount, saying her job now has her living more than 100 miles from Hoopa, which is outside of the range allowed by Tribal law to sit on the panel. Another board member who had acted as a "verifier" did not participate in the recount, citing a medical condition, the paper reported.

Nelson said in his statement that the discrepancies in the Ferris and Jackson race led the election board to conduct a review of results in two other districts as well, which were found to be correct.

"Every tribal member must be able to vote without interference and to have that vote counted without it being stolen because of fraud. As such, if you or someone you know has any information regarding possible election fraud, I urge you to please contact my office immediately," he said in the statement.

Read the full release below:
The General Election of the Hoopa Valley Tribe June 16, 2020 unofficial results were calculated wrong. As a result of recounting the Norton Field District election ballots, the Hoopa Valley Tribe declared Arnold “Deacon” Ferris the official winner of his District.

A petition contesting the election results was filed on June 18, 2020 with the Hoopa Valley Tribe Election Office alleging certain improprieties stemming from the tribal elections held on June 16, 2020. In response, the Election Board made the decision to recount the results of the Norton Field District on June 23, 2020. The recount discovered that the uncertified and unofficial results were not correct. The recount showed that Arnold “Deacon” Ferris won by 80 votes rather than lost by 3 votes.

Since the recount of election results indicated a huge discrepancy in the number of calculated votes, the Hoopa Valley Tribe is acting promptly and aggressively to protect the integrity of our tribal election process.

Due to the nature of the allegations that have been reported and the discrepancy in ballots, the Election Board met on June 24, 2020 to verify the results of the ballots for the Mesket and Campbell Field Districts. The Board found that the results were the same and the winners of those two districts were declared correctly.

Further, our findings to date suggest that individuals and potentially groups of individuals have engaged in efforts to manipulate election results through the election process. As such, the Hoopa Valley Tribe will be referring all information to the U.S. Attorney’s Office and Humboldt County Sheriff’s Office for further investigation and action to hold the responsible parties accountable.

Every tribal member must be able to vote without interference and to have that vote counted without it being stolen because of fraud. As such, if you or someone you know has any information regarding possible election fraud, I urge you to please contact my office immediately. 
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Kimberly Wear

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Kimberly Wear is the assistant editor of the North Coast Journal.

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