The June 25 election for Cherokee Nation Chief between incumbent Chad “Corntassel” Smith and challenger Bill John Baker is now heading into its second week, with a storyline that has seen the numbers of unofficial, certified and recounted votes change at least three times. At press time, this election has also seen injunctions and appeals filed in the Cherokee Nation Supreme Court by both sides.
Smith was first elected to the office of Chief in 1999 and has served three previous terms. His opponent, Baker, is a three-term member of the Cherokee Nation tribal council. The Cherokee Nation has approximately 300,000 members, whose jurisdiction encompasses 14 counties in eastern Oklahoma.
Unofficial results for this election on June 26 showed Baker in the lead with 11 votes out of 14,000 cast. Upon certification of the votes by the Cherokee Nation Election Commission, Smith was officially the winner by 7 votes—7,609 for Smith and 7,602 for Baker.