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Grand Portage Band of Lake Superior Chippewa primary is Tuesday

The Grand Portage Band of Lake Superior Chippewa is holding its primary for the tribal council on Tuesday, June 9. The Grand Portage election board has enacted a number of changes to normal election procedures due to the coronavirus situation.

If not for the COVID-19 pandemic, the Grand Portage Band of Lake Superior Chippewa would have held its tribal council primary on March 31, 2020. However, just days before the primary was to proceed, the Minnesota Chippewa Tribe adopted a resolution to postpone the primary elections for its members to June 9—the date that was to be the general election in 2020.

The general election that follows will now take place on August 18, 2020.

Although the primary in March was canceled, the Grand Portage election board was prepared to proceed at that time. The election board is Toby Stephens, chair; Jason Burnett, clerk; Larry Manthey, teller and Vivian Carlson, alternate.

The same COVID-19 precautions developed at that time will be used in the election this week. According to guidelines shared by the election committee, before the polls open at 8 a.m., election board members will enter the Community Log Building to sanitize all surfaces to be used by voters and board members. Election board members will be wearing gloves during interaction with voters, such as sign-in and ID verifications. The polling station will be equipped with hand sanitizer, gloves, trash cans, and other cleaning supplies. And unlike during a typical election, no coffee, tea, and water station will be available.

The Log Building will also be set up to accommodate eight observers on a first-come, first-serve basis, in compliance with the recommended six-foot social distance guidelines.

Leading up to the primary, Grand Portage Band members were encouraged to vote by absentee or mail-in ballots, especially those in the demographic that is most vulnerable to the coronavirus. Ballots that had been submitted for the planned March 31 primary were held for this week’s election.

Any band members who have already voted by absentee ballot will be counted in the June 9 primary.

In the Tuesday, June 9 Grand Portage primary, candidates are:

  • For chairperson: Robert “Bobby” Deschampe, Earl Johnson, and Elizabeth “Beth” Drost (Incumbent).
  • For committee person at large: Marie Spry, Eric Pehrson, Rick Anderson (incumbent) Ester “Bess” Deschampe, and Rob Hull.
  • The Grand Portage Tribal Council is the governing body of the reservation and is a member of the Minnesota Chippewa Tribe. The primary is being held in accordance with the Minnesota Chippewa Tribe constitution, which calls for a primary if there are multiple candidates for the same seat.
  • The Grand Portage Tribal Council consists of a chair, vice chair, secretary/treasurer, and two committee members. All positions are four-year terms.