Two voters in the disputed House District 71 election appear to have had their preferences counted twice because of human errors at separate precincts, state and local election officials said. Meanwhile, two other ballots that apparently were counted by election machines – but somehow were never transferred to the Tulsa County Election Board for safekeeping – are part of a growing legal controversy that could decide the ultimate winner in the April 3 contest between Republican Katie Henke and Democrat Dan Arthrell. On Tuesday, the Oklahoma Supreme Court stopped any further action on the election by the Tulsa County Election Board, the state Election Board or Tulsa County District Court. The high court scheduled the dispute for oral arguments before a referee next Wednesday. On election night, Arthrell won by three votes, but Henke asked for a recount. When sealed boxes of ballots from the vote were opened last week for the recount, election officials found four fewer ballots than the machines reported.
Two voters in the disputed House District 71 election appear to have had their preferences counted twice because of human errors at separate precincts, state and local election officials say. Meanwhile, two other ballots that apparently were counted by election machines — but somehow were never transferred to the Tulsa County Election Board for safekeeping — are part of a growing legal controversy that could decide the ultimate winner in the April 3 contest between Republican Katie Henke and Democrat Dan Arthrell. On Tuesday, the Oklahoma Supreme Court stopped any further action on the election by the Tulsa County Election Board, the State Election Board or Tulsa County District Court. The high court scheduled the dispute for oral arguments before a referee April 25.
The resolution of a hotly contested special election for an Oklahoma House seat representing Tulsa moved a step closer Monday. At issue is the winner of the special election for House District 71, which pitted Democrat Dan Arthrell against Republican Katie Henke. Greg Albert, an Oklahoma Supreme Court referee, heard arguments in the case Monday. A proceeding in Tulsa County District Court was put on hold pending action by the state’s high court, which may or may not take the case. Attorneys for both sides said they can agree to a series of facts in the case.
Oklahoma: Candidates in Tulsa House election recount ask Oklahoma Supreme Court to take jurisdiction | The Republic
Attorneys for both candidates involved in a contested special election for an Oklahoma House of Representatives seat from Tulsa asked the Oklahoma Supreme Court on Monday to take the case. Democratic candidate Dan Arthrell, whose three-vote lead in this month’s election was overturned in a recount, said he asked the court to intervene. A court referee did not immediately issue a recommendation for whether the court would take the case. The filing comes after initial returns showed Arthrell defeating Republican Katie Henke by three votes in the April 3 special election to fill the seat vacated by Republican Rep. Dan Sullivan. Henke then asked for a manual recount, which was held Tuesday. Arthrell received four fewer votes, resulting in a one-vote win for Henke. Shortly after the Tulsa County Election Board certified the results, two uncounted ballots — both for Arthrell — were found in a bin beneath an election machine.
Florida had the ‘hanging chad’ now Tulsa has the ‘missing ballots’ and more twists and turns in a state house race. Democrat Dan Arthrell won the House District 71 special election on election night April 3rd by three votes. The results were challenged and during a hand re-count yesterday, Republican Katie Henke won by one vote with her tally remaining the same from election night but Arthrell lost four votes that just disappeared. Even with the questions and missing votes, the Tulsa County Election Board certified Henke as the winner. Then election officials found two missing ballots in a ballot box that were not part of the hand recount.
A hearing will resume next week in a Tulsa County courtroom over the outcome of a special election for state House District 71 seat. Democrat Dan Arthrell and Republican Katie Henke are seeking to replace former state Representative Dan Sullivan. In that special election April 3, 2012, Arthrell won by three votes. Henke asked for a recount and on Wednesday, the Tulsa County Election Board certified Henke as the winner by one vote. After the board certified the election, two uncounted ballots for Arthrell were found inside a ballot box. The election board believes the two ballots were caught somehow, maybe on the edge of the drop box underneath the voting machine.
A Tulsa judge is expected to issue a ruling early next week after meeting Thursday with attorneys and candidates in an Oklahoma House of Representatives race being decide by a handful of votes. Initial results in an April 3 special election for the District 71 seat determined Democrat Dan Arthrell defeated Republican Katie Henke by three votes. A Wednesday recount requested by Henke found she won by one vote. But after the Tulsa County Election Board certified Henke as the winner, two more ballots cast for Arthrell were found under a ballot box.
Oklahoma: Stray ballots found after Republican certified winner in Oklahoma House District 71 | Tulsa World
Tulsa County election officials certified a new winner in the razor-thin House District 71 election Wednesday – only to discover two more ballots that apparently had remained unsecured in election equipment for days and which would reverse the results again if counted. The whole mess will be taken to court on Thursday morning for Tulsa County District Judge Daman Cantrell to figure out. The day started with Democrat Dan Arthrell ahead by three votes in the April 3 election. At the request of Republican candidate Katie Henke, Cantrell ordered a recount Wednesday, which resulted in Arthrell losing four votes and Henke being certified as the winner by one vote. But several hours later, acting at the urging of Arthrell’s supporters, election officials reinspected election equipment and found two more ballots from the election – both for Arthrell, enough to swing the returns in the other direction.
The results of a recount that changed the outcome of an Oklahoma House race by one vote have been thrown into question after Tulsa County Election Board officials reported finding two more ballots for the losing candidate Wednesday night. Earlier in the day, county Election Board officials recounted ballots by hand that were cast in the House District 71 special election initially won April 3 by Democrat Dan Arthrell 1,418-1,415 over Republican Katie Henke. The recount determined that Henke received 1,415 votes during the election, while Arthrell collected 1,414 votes, Tulsa County Election Board Secretary Patty Bryant said. With four fewer votes, Arthrell ended up losing the race by one vote, and the recount result was certified by the board. “It was eating on us, and we were thinking `There’s got to be a reason for this,’ ” Bryant said. Two technicians who work for the board looked through 15 precinct ballot boxes and found two ballots in one of them, Bryant said. “We immediately contacted the state Election Board and Secretary Paul Ziriax and the assistant district attorney that helps the Election Board with our counsel,” Bryant said.
Update: The Tulsa County election board said they’ve discovered two missing ballots. The ballots were found inside a ballot box that was not retrieved by a precinct official on the night of the election. There’s a meeting Thursday with a District judge to determine what happens next. Wednesday’s recount changed the winner from Democrat Dan Arthrell to Republican Katie Henke.
A recount changed the outcome of a state house race. Election Day totals had a Democrat winning by three votes – but a recount Wednesday put the Republican ahead by one. Republican Katie Henke been certified as the winner of the race. Democrat Dan Arthrell finished ahead by three votes on election night, April 3, 2012, but lost 4 votes in the recount at the Tulsa County Election Board office Wednesday afternoon. Democrats want to know how it happened that the number of ballots counted on Election Day is different than the number of ballots counted Wednesday.
A recount has changed the outcome of a special election to fill an Oklahoma House of Representatives seat from Tulsa with the Republican nominee now the apparent winner by one vote. Tulsa County Election Board Secretary Patty Bryant told The Associated Press Wednesday that Republican Katie Henke received 1,415 votes to 1,414 to Democrat Dan Arthrell.
Oklahoma: Recount to begin Wednesday in special election for seat in Oklahoma House of Representatives | The Republic
A recount will be held in a special election for an Oklahoma House seat that unofficial returns show the Democratic candidate winning by three votes, officials said Tuesday. Hand-counting of ballots is set to begin at 9 a.m. Wednesday in Tulsa County District Court and was requested by Republican candidate Katie Henke. Unofficial returns from the April 3 election showed Democrat Dan Arthrell beating Henke by three votes in the race for the seat from House District 71, which runs along the Arkansas River in central Tulsa. “Mostly I’ll be sitting and watching, really there’s not a large role for me,” Arthrell, the public policy director for the nonprofit Community Service Council in Tulsa, said Tuesday. Henke, a school teacher, did not immediately return a phone call for comment.
Oklahoma: Mock elections prepare voters for new machines, laws – counties test-run in anticipation of big election year | electionlineWeekly
While voters in New Hampshire went to the polls for real this week, hundreds of voters throughout the state of Oklahoma headed to the polls to test-drive the state’s new voting machines. The mock election, occurring in all of the state’s 77 counties this week, was designed to not only acclimate voters with the state’s new voting machines, but to also provide additional training to elections workers and to find any kinks in the process before the state’s March primary.
The next big change in Oklahoma elections since the state stopped counting ballots by hand in 1992 is rolling out in February, promising faster election results and more data. Each of the state’s 1,958 voting locations is getting new ballot scanning machines that cost $2,800 each. The new machines and data system will be used for the first time in the Feb. 14 election.
Elections were canceled by lawmakers for December and January to allow the new system to be installed. “We’re very thankful to have that,” said Paul Ziriax, state Election Board secretary. “If we could have an extra month, we’d take it, but we’ll be ready.”
The new scanners will still take paper ballots, only now more of the data from those ballots will be available to the public online and faster than ever before. County election boards will be able to report local results online, something they weren’t equipped to do before. “We’re going to have far more detail than we’ve ever been able to show before,” Ziriax said. “We’ll be able to drill down and see which precincts haven’t reported.”
A Tulsa County judge is prohibited from hearing a constitutional challenge to the state’s voter identification law, the state Supreme Court ruled this week. The Supreme Court issued a brief order Monday regarding a venue issue in a lawsuit filed in Tulsa County against the state Election Board.
The state’s highest court indicated that a constitutional challenge to the law had to be brought in the county of the Election Board’s official residence, which would be Oklahoma County. At a September hearing, District Judge Jefferson Sellers decided that the lawsuit filed in June on behalf of plaintiff Delilah Christine Gentges could proceed in a Tulsa County courtroom. Sellers did not rule on the merits of the suit’s constitutional challenge.
Muskogee County election officials are sending voter identification cards to more than 4,500 registered voters affected by legislative redistricting. Redistricting, mandated by law to take place every 10 years, divided the county, which used to be within one state Senate district, into parts of three districts.
Muskogee County Election Board Secretary Ellen Thames said the redrawn boundaries of several state House districts also affects a number of voters. This year’s legislative redistricting will affect 4,515, or nearly 12 percent, of the county’s 39,121 registered voters. Voters in western and southeastern Muskogee County will be affected the most.
The state Election Board wants the Oklahoma Supreme Court to order a revised lawsuit challenging the state’s new voter identification law transferred out of Tulsa County because of a venue issue.
The Election Board, represented by the state Attorney General’s Office, also maintains that the Tulsa County case, assigned to District Judge Jefferson Sellers, should be dismissed based on a contention that plaintiff Delilah Gentges lacks legal standing to proceed. The matter of whether the Supreme Court should take jurisdiction of the case is scheduled to be argued by lawyers on Nov. 15. The suit was filed by Tulsa attorney James Thomas.
The state Election Board filed a motion Monday asking Sellers to delay proceedings in his court until the Supreme Court resolves the challenge to his authority to exercise jurisdiction. Sellers is expected to issue a stay order.
Oklahoma: Cherokee Nation Election Commission certifies election results Baker wins | Sequoyah County Times
The Cherokee Nation Election Commission certified the election results from the Sept. 24 special election for principal chief. The official results show Bill John Baker received 10,703 votes and Chad Smith received 9,128 votes. Following a three-day counting process, the commission on Wednesday certified the results of the special election. The official results show Baker of Tahlequah received nearly 54 percent of the votes.
According to the tribe’s election law, a request for a recount must be made by 5 p.m. on Oct. 19. Any appeal with the Cherokee Nation Supreme Court challenging the validity of the election, must be made by 5 p.m. on Oct. 24.
Details for an inaugural ceremony to swear in Chief-Elect Baker have not yet been specified. Baker is a Tahlequah businessman who has served multiple terms as a representative on the Cherokee Nation Tribal Council. He holds degrees in political science and history in education with minors in sociology and psychology.
Oklahoma: Cherokee Election Commission: Baker declared unnoffical winner of principal chief election | kjrh.com
Bill John Baker has been declared the unofficial winner in the election for principal chief of the Cherokee Nation, election commission officials announced Tuesday evening. Preliminary numbers show Baker received 54% of the vote with 10,633 ballots cast. Incumbent Chad Smith received 46% of the vote with 9,099 ballots cast.
The election has been embroiled in controversy since June. Both Baker and Smith were at one time declared the winner, prompting the Cherokee Nation Supreme Court to order a new election. Then in August, the court stripped the Freedmen, descendants of slaves once owned by tribal members, of their citizenship and right to vote in the special election.
An agreement to maintain the citizenship and suffrage of the Freedmen was ordered in two separate cases in federal court in September. Tuesday morning, the Cherokee Nation Supreme Court struck down the agreement in one of those cases a federal judge had recently dismissed.
Reporting from Tahlequah, Okla.— More than 170 years ago the proud Cherokee people in the South were brutally driven into exile in Oklahoma along what became known as the Trail of Tears. Now, an unlikely group of descendants is battling the tribe for its rights. They are the so-called black Cherokees, some of whose ancestors were held as slaves by members of the tribe.
Their quest came to a head in recent days as Cherokees went to the polls in northeastern Oklahoma’s Indian country to select a new chief. Of the more than 300,000 Cherokees in America, about 2,800 are black, and many say their fate could ride on the outcome. Tribes across the nation are wrestling with questions of identity, especially since tribal casinos began generating huge revenue. But the Cherokee Nation, unlike some tribes that allow gaming, does not divide casino profits among its citizens.
And though being a Cherokee in Oklahoma means having access to many services, such as a multimillion-dollar health center, the black Cherokees say the battle is really about identity.
After the first day of counting in the Cherokee Nation special election for principal chief, Tribal Council member Bill John Baker unofficially leads former chief Chad Smith by almost 2,200 votes.
At 2 p.m. Sunday, the Cherokee Nation Election Commission released unofficial, machine-counted vote totals by precinct for the tribe’s 38 polling places and walk-in voting, with Baker ahead 6,223 votes to 4,046. That gives Baker an initial lead of 60.6 percent to 39.4 percent.
About 8,700 people voted at their precincts on Sept. 24 and an additional 1,647 voted at the election commission during walk-in days, including 510 during the five additional walk-in days ordered by a federal district court judge. The election commission has not started counting absentee ballots, and the number that were returned has not been disclosed. About 12,000 absentee ballots were requested for the special election, an increase of 3,800 from the general election.
The Cherokee Nation Election Commission has adjourned for the evening and will reconvene Monday tomorrow at 8 a.m. to continue verifying absentee ballots. On Sunday morning the Cherokee Nation Election Commission began counting ballots cast during the special election for Principal Chief.
“We know this has been a long process and that our citizens are eager to know who will serve as the next Principal Chief of the Cherokee Nation,” said Susan Plumb, chairperson of the commission. “The Commission has developed a plan and timeline to decrease the chances of human error and provide the Cherokee people with an election in which they can have faith.”
Ballot counting in the special election for principal chief is scheduled to start at 8 a.m. Sunday, more than two weeks after the original election day. The Cherokee Nation Election Commission announced on Thursday that the counting will not be a one-day affair.
“Because of the circumstances surrounding the special election for principal chief, the commission has established a three-day process for counting the election results,” said Election Commission Chairman Susan Plumb. “We know that this has been a long process and people are eager to know who will serve as the next principal chief, but the commission must remain focused on its responsibility of providing the Cherokee people with an accurate, fair and impartial election.” The commission will start Sunday with ballots cast in-person at the 38 precincts and during walk-in voting days.
The Cherokee Nation Election Commission will begin on Sunday counting the ballots cast in the recent special election for Principal Chief and they anticipate the process to take multiple days.
“Because of the circumstances surrounding the special election for Principal Chief, the Commission has established a three-day process for counting the election results,” said Susan Plumb, chairperson of the Election Commission. “We know that this has been a long process and people are eager to know who will serve as the next Principal Chief, but the Commission must remain focused on its responsibility of providing the Cherokee people with an accurate, fair and impartial election.”
The Cherokee Nation Election Commission continued to navigate around roadblocks in the tribe’s efforts to elect a principal chief this week. In the meantime, the two candidates — Chad Smith and Bill John Baker — continued to throw barbs at one another.
On Tuesday the election commission held a special meeting to determine how to comply with a federal court order that all tribal members have until Oct. 8 to vote for a principal chief. Due to vote-count inconsistencies in the first election in June, the tribe held a second election Saturday for principal chief, and will keep the ballot box open for freedmen until Oct. 8, as ordered by a federal court. But the federal court on Tuesday ordered that the ballot box and election had to be open to all tribal members not just the freedmen.
“A new court order has added additional voting days for any registered Cherokee Nation voter and stipulates that no ballots be counted until after the last voting opportunity on Oct. 8,” the election commission said in a prepared statement released Tuesday.
All registered Cherokee voters will be permitted to cast their vote in a special election for principal chief during five open voting dates as a result of a new federal court ruling. Those dates are Sept. 29, Oct. 1, 4, 6 and 8. Voting must be done on a walk-in basis at the Cherokee Nation Election Commission office in Tahlequah.
During a Sept. 23 telephone hearing requested by both U.S. attorneys and Freedmen attorneys to discuss a complaint filed last week by Freedmen attorneys, a compromise was reached to allow all registered Cherokee voters to vote.
Yesterday, U.S. District Judge Henry Kennedy Jr. ruled on the complaint made by attorneys for Cherokee Freedmen descendants last week. The complaint alleged the tribes’ election commission did not comply with certain aspects of ruling made by the United States District Court for the District of Columbia Sept. 21.
A federal judge ruled that the Cherokees violated the voting rights of African-American members of the nation’s second-largest Indian tribe, and he ordered an extension to the voting for chief. Five extra voting days were added by Washington-based District Judge Henry H. Kennedy Jr for all tribe members, not just the group known as the “freedmen,” who are the African-American descendants of Cherokee-held slaves during the pre-Civil War era.
The ruling followed a Cherokee tribal decision to revoke the membership rights of the African-Americans, saying they were not Cherokee by blood. The freedmen say they were granted tribal membership by a 19th century treaty with the government, and filed suit against the Cherokees in federal court.
Allowing both black and Indian Cherokees to take advantage of the extended voting days is designed to “start the healing process,” said Jon Velie, a freedmen attorney. “We want this racial schism to end,” he told Reuters.
The Carter Center Tuesday issued a lengthy statement about the recent Cherokee Nation special election, as well as recommendations to the tribe’s election commission moving forward. The entire statement can be found here.
The Carter Center congratulates the election commission, candidates, and voters of the Cherokee Nation on a successful election day. Sept. 24 was the only day for voters to cast ballots at 38 precincts in the Nation, but there will be additional opportunities for citizens to cast a ballot at the election commission and for Freedmen to vote by absentee ballot to determine who will be the next principal chief.
… … Overall, Carter Center observation teams commended the competent administration of the election by the election commission and precinct polling staff. The disciplined conduct of this election was notable given the shifting legal parameters and the additional administrative burden placed on the election commission in the days before the election by the federal court order.
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.”
The Cherokee Nation on Saturday held a second election for principal tribal chief, but voters will not know who the winner is until next month. With the ballots not being counted until Oct. 8, official voter turnout figures were not available Saturday. However, outside some polling places, volunteers from both campaigns kept a running total of voters.
“We’ve counted about 400 so far,” said Tribal Council member Jodie Fishinghawk at noon Saturday, who stumped for Tribal Councilor Bill John Baker outside the Wilma P. Mankiller clinic in Stilwell. “That’s about on pace with what we saw here in the June election.”
About 15,000 people voted in the June election, including almost 900 at Stilwell. In accordance with a federal district court order, the Cherokee Nation Election Commission will not count any ballots in the race between former principal chief Chad Smith and Baker until Oct. 8.