Levi Rickert, editor-in-chief in Native Briefs. Discussion »
Bill John Baker
Up 266 in Recount
NATIVE BRIEF: TAHLEQUAH, OKLAHOMA - Since last Sunday, the Cherokee Tribe of Oklahoma has seen the election results go back and forth between two men vying to be the Tribe's principal chief.
After the election last Saturday, the election results showed Bill John Baker, challenger to incumbent Principal Chief Chad Smith, winning the election.
Then, on Sunday, the Cherokee Nation's independent Election Commission proclaimed Smith the victor by a mere seven votes.
Today, after an official recount, the Election Commission has released the results, naming Bill John Baker of Tahlequah the next Principal Chief. The official results show that Baker edged out Smith with a vote of 7,613 to 7,347, a difference of 266 votes.
Just prior to the recount, a ruling was issued by the Cherokee Nation Supreme Court stating that the ballots were found to be preserved intact and not tampered with and that the official recount could proceed.
According to Cherokee Nation election law, Smith has until July 5 to appeal the validity of the outcome of the election. Appeals are made through the Cherokee Nation Supreme Court, the tribe's highest court. The court must set a date for an appeals hearing, to begin no later than Friday, July 8. Tribal election law calls for the Supreme Court to render a decision within two days of the close of the hearing.
A run-off election to determine the outcome of the Deputy Principal Chief's race between Chris Soap and Joe Crittenden will be held on Saturday, July 23. Three seats on the Tribal Council will also be decided during the run-off. In District 1, which represents Cherokee and a portion of Wagoner County, David Walkingstick and Mark Vance will vie for Seat 3. Harley Buzzard and Jodie Fishinghawk, both incumbents on the Council, will square off to fill the District 2, Seat 3 spot, which represents Cherokees living in Adair, Delaware and a portion of Ottawa counties. Incumbent Bradley Cobb will face Dick Lay for District 4, Seat 2. District 4 includes a portion of Washington County along with all of Craig, Mayes and Nowata counties.
By Cherokee Nation election code, any races in which one candidate did not receive more than 50 percent of the vote in the June 25 general election must be decided in a run-off of the two candidates receiving the most votes.
Voters who wish to do so may still request absentee ballots for the run-off by requesting them from the Election Office through July 5. The absentee ballot request form for the run-off is available online from the Cherokee Nation Election Commission website or can be picked up at the CNEC office, most Cherokee Nation field offices or at the Cherokee FIRST office located inside the Cherokee Nation complex in Tahlequah. Request forms must be physically in the office no later than 5 pm. Voters can fax the absentee ballot request form to the CNEC at 918-458-6101.
Voters who used an absentee ballot during the general election do not need to request a ballot for the run-off. They will automatically be sent a run-off ballot and must vote as an absentee in the run-off.
posted July 1, 2011 7:15 pm edt
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