$100 (Legal) Vote Buying in Tribal Election

Buffalo News:

Sometimes, an election vote that is supposed to be secret really isn’t secret at all.

That is what happened last Tuesday, when members of Seneca Nation elected every candidate sponsored by the Seneca Party, according to critics of the election.

Seneca Party candidates won all 30 contested offices, including president, treasurer and all the members of the Tribal Council. Not one candidate who opposed the Seneca Party came away with a victory.

Critics of the election, especially the two unsuccessful candidates for president – J. Conrad “J.C.” Seneca and Sally Snow – said there are two reasons for the Seneca Party’s sweep.

During the voting, poll watchers for the Seneca Party could determine whether voters were casting a straight ballot for the Seneca Party candidates, or taking time to vote for other candidates, they say. And Seneca and casino jobs for the voters and their families are dependent on the straight ballot, the critics said.

The second reason why the Seneca Party swept the election, the critics said, is vote buying, which is legal in the Seneca Nation.

“As long as you have a party that is going to pay people $100 for a vote, they are going to keep winning,” said Sally Snow, one of the two unsuccessful presidential candidates. “I refused to pay for votes. I do not want to become the first woman president in the history of the Seneca Nation by paying people for their votes.”

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