Cherokee Nation voters who cast ballots Saturday may have done so with more confidence, as a delegation from The Carter Center was on hand to observe procedures. At the invitation of the Cherokee Nation Election Commission, The Carter Center deployed a small delegation for the special election for principal chief. Over the past week, delegates have interviewed election commissioners, political contestants and others to assess the electoral process. On Saturday, members of the delegation were present for in-person voting, and will also observe during the vote tallying process which will take place after Oct. 8.
“The June election for Cherokee Nation principal chief and its aftermath created uncertainty about the process,” said Avery Davis-Roberts, assistant director of the Carter Center’s Democracy Program. “The Carter Center hopes that our mission to observe the special election will reassure Cherokee voters, and will help strengthen the efforts of the election commission, Tribal Council, political contestants, and civil society to ensure the integrity of future elections.”
Following the June 25 general election, several recounts, and an extended court battle, the Supreme Court of the Cherokee Nation ruled the election for principal chief invalid, due to the inability to determine the results between former Principal Chief Chad Smith and challenger Bill John Baker, a two-term tribal councilor.
The Carter Center previously observed the 1999 elections in the Cherokee Nation.