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White Earth District II candidate requests recount

KENNETH COLEMAN, center, is surrounded by supporters on election night. (Brian Basham/Record)

White Earth District II Committeeman candidate Kenneth Coleman has requested a recount.

"I have not given up the battle and I will continue our fight until all options are depleted," he wrote on his Facebook campaign page.

Coleman lost by 28 votes in Tuesday's election against incumbent Terrence "Terry" Tibbetts. The results were too close to ignore, he said, and worth investigating.

He filed a request for a recount Wednesday and is waiting for the election board's decision, which is to be announced by early next week.

Coleman questioned the absentee ballots in his district and said he wanted to make sure they weren't "dirty."

"We want to do it right," he said in an interview. "We don't want to have the absentee ballots decide who's running our district.

"They don't live here on the reservation, they shouldn't have any say as far as the district representative goes."

Absentee ballots in the District II race totaled 176 -- 117 for Tibbetts and 59 for Coleman.

In the District I Committeeman race, incumbent Irene "Rene" Auginaush won 83 of the absentee votes, while challenger Steven "Punky" Clark received 67.

Coleman said it appears that absentee voting has decided the fate of candidates in the past few elections.

"There definitely needs to be some election reform," he added. "I'm not sure exactly what we can do to resolve that issue, but there needs to be some changes."

Absentee ballots are sent out by requests about a month before the general election. The White Earth Election Office is required to follow specific ordinances for absentee voting that are enforced by the Minnesota Chippewa Tribe.

"All candidates are given the ordinance when they file, " Election Judge Vernie Hisgun said. "They have to follow it, it's the law for the election."

She added, however, there may be some revisions in the ordinance between elections.

"If there is any changes made to it, it may come about with challenges," Hisgun said.