Oklahoma: Challenge to Oklahoma voter-ID law advances | Tulsa World

A legal challenge to Oklahoma’s new voter-identification law survived a venue hurdle Thursday. A lawsuit filed in June in Tulsa County against the state Election Board asserts that the impact of that law, approved by state voters in November, creates “serious interference” with the unrestricted right to vote for voters who “do not have appropriate identifying credentials or who are unwilling to accept any level of this statewide infringement on the right to vote.”

On behalf of the Election Board, the state Attorney General’s Office has maintained that Tulsa County was an improper venue to file suit against the Election Board.

Oklahoma: Election Commission sets additional voting dates | Cherokee Phoenix

The Cherokee Nation Election Commission set two additional walk-in voting dates, and it discussed today’s U.S. District Court order concerning Freedmen citizenship and voting rights at a special meeting today. The special meeting was called to determine the best way to follow the guidelines within the order.

As required by the order, the EC has determined the additional walk-in voting dates for Freedmen to be Sept. 29 and Oct. 6. Absentee ballots for Freedmen will be accepted no later than Oct. 8. The EC added that no votes will be accepted from non-Freedmen after Sept. 24 at 7 p.m. The additional dates only apply to Freedmen voting, commissioners said.

In the decision, the court ordered that the 1,200 Freedmen registered to vote be allowed to vote in the Sept. 24 election “in the same manner as all other Cherokee citizens, without intimidation or harassment, and to have their votes counted on the same basis as all other Cherokee citizens.”

Oklahoma: Slave descendants get Cherokee voting rights, possible tribal inclusion: War ‘still not over’ | The Washington Post

A last-minute agreement allowing nearly 3,000 descendants of slaves once owned by members of the Cherokee Nation to vote for the tribe’s principal chief was being hailed Wednesday by supporters who called it a major victory in the group’s decades-long fight to become fully recognized tribal members while cautioning that “the war is still not over.”

At least two tribal attorneys hailed the compromise hatched a day earlier outside a Washington D.C. federal courtroom as a milestone for the descendants, known as freedmen, because it was the first time the Cherokee Nation admitted in a federal courtroom that the freedmen had tribal rights.

The compromise calls for extending balloting for this Saturday’s special election until Oct. 8 so that those qualified to vote can be notified and participate. Previously, hundreds of freedmen descendants were only told they could cast provisional ballots Saturday, but they would only be counted in the event of a court order.

Oklahoma: Cherokee Nation, Federal Government Fight Over Rights Of Freed Slave Descendants | Huffington Post

The Cherokee Nation’s election commission voted Wednesday to allow descendants of slaves once owned by tribal members to cast ballots for principal chief, but they’ll only count in the event of a court order.

Federal officials objected to a ruling last month by the tribe’s highest court that found only people of direct Cherokee ancestry could be members of the tribe and vote in the upcoming election, essentially denying ballots to some 2,800 freedmen descendants.

While the election commission’s vote doesn’t directly overturn the ruling by the Cherokee Nation Supreme Court, it does allow for freedmen to cast provisional ballots in an effort to make the election results stand, regardless of how the courts ultimately rule.

Oklahoma: Cherokee Election Commission says Freedmen can vote | Native American Times

The Cherokee Nation Election Commission voted Wednesday night to allow previously registered freedmen voters to cast challenge ballots in the upcoming principal chief’s election.

“The purpose of the challenge ballot is that it allows us to be prepared for any possible court decision on the issue,” Election Commission chairwoman Susan Plumb said. “If a court decides the freedmen descendants can vote, we will have the ability to certify the election.  If the court decides they cannot vote, we will still be able to preserve the election.”

The election is scheduled for Sept. 24. Plumb and the other commissioners reiterated their desire to not change that date.

Oklahoma: Cherokee Commission: Principal Chief Election Will Go On Despite Litigation | NewsOn6.com

The Election Commission for the Cherokee Nation decided to move forward with a special election September 24th for principal chief. The Commission met in Tahlequah Wednesday evening because of new developments in the Freedmen case.

The Nation recently kicked out 2,800 descendants of the tribe’s black slaves who want to vote, and the federal government says that violated an old treaty. A federal judge will hear the case next week. They commission also approved to expedite absentee ballots to Freedmen who are registered voters and requested absentee ballots for the election.

Oklahoma: Cherokees won’t have ‘official’ election results Sept. 24 | Tahlequah Daily Press

Tribal citizens looking for official results in the upcoming special election for principal chief may be disappointed when balloting ends Saturday, Sept. 24.

The Cherokee Nation Election Commission approved amending its regulations to allow a 48-hour certification period after each election. While unofficial results will be announced before commissioners leave on election night – or the following morning, as was the case in the recent election – final canvassing and official results will not be determined until two days later.

Newly appointed Election Commissioner Susan Plumb proposed the amendment. “I don’t know of any other entity, whether it’s state, municipal or otherwise, that certifies election results immediately,” said Plumb.

Oklahoma: US Government warns Special Election for Cherokee Nation Principal Chief may not be valid | FOX23 News

In a letter sent to Acting Principal Chief Joe Crittenden, the Assistant Secretary for the Bureau of Indian Affairs warns that the Special Election for Principal Chief, scheduled for September 24th, will not be valid if the Cherokee Freedmen cannot vote.

Letter sent from Bureau of Indian Affairs to Acting Chief Joe Crittenden (379.7KB)

The letter states that the U.S. Government does not recognize the 2007 Cherokee Constitutional Amendment that was upheld by the Cherokee Nation Supreme Court. The amendment maintains that Freedmen are not citizens of the Cherokee Nation tribe, and are not eligible to vote. Because the U.S. Government is not recognizing the amendment, the special election would not be valid if the Freedmen are not allowed to vote.

Oklahoma: Cherokee Freedmen Ask Court To Reinstate Voting Rights | KOTV.com

A group of freedmen is asking U.S. courts to restore their voting rights – in time for the Chief’s election in two weeks. The freedman voted in the first election – but as of now – cannot vote in the new election.

The issue of what to do with the freedman dates back to the civil war and it’s more unsettled now than ever. The freedmen, descendents of the tribe’s slaves, finally lost their citizenship last month after four years of legal arguments.

The Cherokee Supreme Court approved the tribe’s vote to expel the freedmen, even though their citizenship was established by treaty. The Cherokee nation argues only the tribe can define a member and for them – it’s a simple question of having bloodline back to the members on the Dawes Roll.

Oklahoma: Election Commission discusses Freedmen decision | Cherokee Phoenix

The Cherokee Nation Election Commission held a special meeting on Aug. 30, and due to pending lawsuits, it’s still undetermined whether Cherokee Freedmen will be eligible to vote in the Sept. 24 principal chief election.

CN Attorney General Diane Hammons was in attendance at the meeting, and she said a hearing in the Freedmen matter is slated for Sept. 20 in federal court. The filing period for the plaintiffs of the Freedmen lawsuit is Sept. 2, and the CN has 10 days to respond and five days for a reply, Hammons said.

Cherokee Freedman William Austin of Muskogee attended the EC meeting and asked how he and other Freedmen would be notified whether they will be allowed to vote or not. “When you get your ballot, if you get one,” EC attorney Lloyd Cole replied.


Oklahoma: Cherokee Nation votes to keep same laws for upcoming election | Tulsa World

The Cherokee Nation will not amend its election laws for the upcoming principal chief’s race. At its regular Rules Committee meeting Thursday, the Cherokee Nation Tribal Council voted 8-4 to table a bill by acting Council Speaker Cara Cowan Watts of Claremore that would have codified a July 12 request from the council that the tribe’s Election Commission bring in a third-party organization to observe next month’s election.

The proposal also would have required voters to show identification when arriving to vote, such as a driver’s license, citizenship card, voter registration card or other identification specified by the Election Commission. The tribe’s election law allows for poll workers to identify voters by sight, rather than photo identification, if they know the voter in question.

Oklahoma: Attorney for Cherokee freedmen questions timing of tribal court ruling | NewsOK.com

The attorney representing freedmen in their case against the Cherokee Nation said Tuesday that he was shocked the tribe’s Supreme Court ruled against the freedmen so close to the special election to pick a new chief.

Attorney Ralph Keen Jr., of Stilwell, said the Cherokee Nation Supreme Court’s ruling, which was handed down on Monday, came a day before the tribe’s election officials sent out absentee ballots for the election between Chad Smith and Bill John Baker.

The tribal court’s decision means about 2,800 freedmen — the ancestors of slaves who had been owned by Cherokee members — won’t be able to vote in the Sept. 24 election. Hall said the timing “shocked me … when you put it in the context of the special tribal election.”

Oklahoma: Voter ID requirement will be new to most at polls Sept. 13 | Tulsa World

For most of those voting in the Sept. 13 city primary, this election will be the first requiring voters to present identification at polling places. The new law, approved in a statewide referendum last November, was actually in place for an Aug. 9 franchise vote. Only 3,410 voters turned out for that election, so the city primary will be the city’s first widespread experience with voter ID.

The law requires voters to present identification containing a name, photograph and expiration date that is after the date of the election.

Exceptions, however, are allowed for those carrying only a voter identification card, which does not have a photo, and for those older than 65 with a state identification card. Those cards do not have an expiration date.

Oklahoma: Cherokee Nation voters prepare for principal chief election | MuskogeePhoenix.com

Cherokee Nation citizens will head to the polls in a little over a month to determine who will lead the tribe for the next four years. Following the June 25 general election, 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. A new election for principal chief has been called for Saturday, Sept. 24.

Acting Principal Chief Joe Crittenden, who will resume his duties as deputy chief once the Sept. 24 election concludes, wants all citizens to participate in the process.

Oklahoma: Costly city-run elections feared | Tulsa World

City councilors were told Tuesday that voter approval this fall of an initiative petition ballot question for nonpartisan races would be “extremely” costly for Tulsans because it would force the city to conduct some of the elections on its own. The nonprofit group Save Our Tulsa successfully petitioned to have voters decide Nov. 8 three questions that could make changes to the city’s form of government.

A question addressing the nonpartisan races calls for both the primary and runoff races to be held during months in which, by state law, the Tulsa County Election Board does not hold elections, Assistant City Attorney Patrick Boulden said. “It is obviously in conflict with state law and would mean the city of Tulsa would have to conduct the election in September and the Election Board would not participate,” he said.

Oklahoma: Cherokee Councilors boycott special meeting | Native Times

Failing to make quorum, the Cherokee Nation Tribal Council did not take action on potential amendments to the tribe’s election code at a special meeting Friday afternoon.

Twenty minutes before the meeting’s scheduled 3 p.m. start time, principal chief candidate and Tribal Council member Bill John Baker, along with councilors Tina Glory-Jordan of Hulbert, Okla., Chuck Hoskin Jr., of Vinita, Okla., Jodie Fishinghawk from Stilwell, Okla., and Curtis Snell from Rose, Okla., issued a statement through Baker’s campaign that they would not be attending the special council. The five called the meeting illegal due to the presence of proposed election law amendments on the agenda that had not been vetted by the council’s rules committee.

“The Tribal Council rules are crystal clear that an issue cannot be addressed by the council unless it has first been considered and passed out of a council committee, “ Baker said in the statement.

Oklahoma: Cherokee Nation special chief’s election set Sept. 24 | Tahlequah Daily Press

The Cherokee Nation’s special election for principal chief has been set for Saturday, Sept. 24. The date, set by Principal Chief Chad Smith according to tribal law, should allow ample time for tribal citizens to participate. Candidates for the special election are incumbent Smith, a three-term principal chief; and challenger Bill John Baker, a three-term tribal councilor.

The special election is the result of the CN Supreme Court’s ruling that vacated the results of the June 25 election, in which both Smith and Baker filed lawsuits. The court vacated the results of the election on Thursday, June 21, stating it was impossible to determine the results with any mathematical certainty. Cherokee Nation law indicates, in such cases, a special election must be called by the principal chief “as soon as practical.”

Oklahoma: Special Election for Principal Chief set for September 24 | kjrh.com

Cherokee citizens will head to the polls September 24 to decide who will be the next Principal Chief. “That was the date recommended by the Election Commission to best allow our citizens to fully participate in the election,” said Principal Chief Chad Smith. “The commission thought that gave enough time to notify our citizens of the dates important to the election, including a period of time for voters to request absentee ballots.”

Cherokee Nation law says that in such cases, a special election must be called by the Principal Chief “as soon as practical.”

All citizens who were registered to vote in the June 25 general election will be eligible to vote in the special election, officials said. The election law ends voter registration for an election year on March 31 of that year, so voters who registered after the deadline will not be eligible to vote in the special election, says election commission officials.

Oklahoma: Cherokee Nation commissioners mull election issues | Tahlequah Daily Press

The Cherokee Nation Election Commission decided Tuesday morning to delay filling a vacancy created by the resignation of former Chairman Roger Johnson. The EC opted to instead wait until after tribe’s attorney general issues opinions on the upcoming special election for principal chief, and a rules committee and special tribal council meeting have been held over the next two weeks.

Three of the four commissioners – Patsy Eads-Morton, Brenda Walker and Curtis Rohr – met with commission attorney Lloyd Cole Tuesday. Martha Calico was absent, but only three commissioners are needed to make a quorum.

Oklahoma: Election waits on tribal Attorney General ruling | MuskogeePhoenix.com

Cherokee Nation officials delayed decisions Tuesday regarding a special election to choose the tribe’s next principal chief. Election commissioners said they are awaiting a response from the tribe’s attorney general regarding three inquiries submitted Friday.

They also are waiting for the tribal council’s appointment of a commissioner to replace Roger Johnson, who resigned after the June 25 election. Officials said the special election issues pending before the attorney general primarily involve three questions of law.

Editorials: Election chance to restore faith – Cherokee election process under review | MuskogeePhoenix.com

The Cherokee Nation Supreme Court’s order for a new election gives the candidates for principal chief a second chance to declare a definitive win. It also gives the tribe’s embattled election commission a chance to restore faith in the system.

The contest between Principal Chief Chad Smith and challenger Bill John Baker became a back-and-forth tug-of-war during the days immediately following the June 25 general election.

After both candidates were declared winners — then losers — allegations of fraud and deception surfaced. The integrity of the tribe’s election process suffered, and at least one commissioner targeted for criticism became a casualty of the bitter contest.

Oklahoma: Cherokee Nation Supreme Court throws out election for chief of Oklahoma’s largest Indian tribe | The Washington Post

The Cherokee Nation’s Supreme Court on Thursday threw out the results of a disputed election to determine the chief of Oklahoma’s largest Native American tribe following weeks of legal wrangling and multiple vote tallies that each came out with a different number.

The court’s ruling means a new election will be held in Tahlequah, although a date was not set by the five-justice court. At stake is the leadership of 300,000 Cherokees, one of the largest tribes in the U.S. Uncertainty about the accuracy of the results of the June 25 election and repeated flip-flopping in terms of the declared winner has eroded confidence among Cherokee voters.

Oklahoma: Cherokee challenger asks for ballots to be thrown out or new election | Tulsa World

Cherokee Nation Chief candidate Bill John Baker has asked the tribe’s Supreme Court to either set aside questionable ballots or order a new election, filings in the case show. The Supreme Court issued an order Monday afternoon requiring all motions, pleadings and briefs be turned in by noon Tuesday for the 6 p.m. hearing.

Baker’s camp has filed three motions with the court, two concerning the ballots and one requesting the justices call for a new election within 30 days.

In one of the filings, Baker and his attorneys ask that the court set aside all ballots that have been erased for one candidate and remarked for another candidate. These ballots were unable to be read by machines due to erasures, white-out markings, smudges or other alterations on the ballot and had to be hand-tallied.

Oklahoma: Cherokee Nation Chief Still Undecided After Weekend Recount | KOTV.com

After two days recounting the recount, there’s a new vote tally, but not a new Chief of the Cherokee Nation. In a hand recount of votes over the weekend, Chad Smith won by a narrow five votes but that may not mean he gets to keep his job.

A Cherokee Nation lawyer compares it to the Bush-Gore race in Florida. It was unchartered territory for America. Now, Smith-Baker is testing the laws of the Cherokee Nation. After a painstaking two days of counting more than 15,000 ballots, this announcement from Chief Chad Smith:

“I’ve come out ahead,” Chief Chad Smith said. But his challenger, Bill John Baker, says not so fast.

Oklahoma: Second recount goes to Smith – Final say still lies with Cherokee Supreme Court | MuskogeePhoenix.com

Which man will be the Cherokee Nation’s principal chief will not be officially determined until tribal court justices consider challenged votes. Unofficial results of the second recount in the race give incumbent Principal Chief Chad Smith the edge with five votes.

However, the numbers aren’t yet certified, and officials did not release the number of challenged votes. The court reconvenes at 6 p.m. Tuesday. Officials spent more than 20 hours counting ballots on Saturday and Sunday — the second recount since the June 25 election.

Smith made a brief announcement once the recount was complete, thanking his supporters first, then announcing his five-vote lead. “After a long effort and a long day, we are pleased with this result,” Smith said. “This shows that every Cherokee vote was counted.”

Oklahoma: Cherokee election recount progressing slowly | MiamiHerald.com

A second manual recount of votes in the hotly-contested Cherokee Nation principal chief’s election began on Saturday, but campaign officials said progress was slow and that it would likely stretch into a second day.

Three-term incumbent Chief Chad Smith; his challenger, longtime tribal councilman Bill John Baker; their attorneys and the tribal Supreme Court justices watched as the roughly 15,000 ballots cast for the June 25 election were counted at the American Indian tribe’s election commission headquarters in Tahlequah. Reporters were not allowed into the room, but both sides said it appeared the proceedings would continue into Sunday.

Oklahoma: Second recount in Cherokee elections starts Saturday | MiamiHerald.com

Cherokee Nation election commissioners will begin a second recount Saturday in the close and hotly contested election for the leader of Oklahoma’s largest American Indian tribe.

Results from the June 25 election have been in dispute since they were announced the morning after. Unofficial results showed longtime councilman Bill John Baker winning by 11 votes, but when the Cherokee Nation Election Commission announced its official results the next day it said Principal Chief Chad Smith had won a fourth term by seven votes.

A June 30 recount ended with Baker up by 266 votes, but the tribe’s highest court ordered another recount Tuesday.

Oklahoma: Chief candidates offer up ideas for recount | MuskogeePhoenix.com

Two candidates competing for the Cherokee Nation’s top post offered suggestions Friday about how to handle the second manual recount of the ballots cast for principal chief. Incumbent Chad Smith and challenger Bill John Baker have dueled over the outcome of the June 25 election since they were tabulated election night.

The tribe’s election officials declared both men official winners and losers during the first five days following the election. While both men cling to victory, neither knows for sure who will be inaugurated chief Aug. 14. While the candidates remained outside the spotlight Friday, lawyers for the campaigns outlined proposals for how to conduct a recount that might stand.

Oklahoma: Cherokee Nation Orders Second Recount In Chief Election | KOTV.com

The Cherokee Nation Supreme Court ordered another recount Tuesday in the election for Principal Chief. The second recount will be done by hand and will start at 8:30 a.m. this Saturday, July 16, 2011.

The race has been the center of controversy since the election on June 25, 2011. Chief Chad Smith was initially declared the winner by just seven votes over challenger Bill John Baker. Baker ordered a recount and was declared the winner by 266 votes last week.

But over the weekend, the Cherokee Nation Supreme Court counted absentee ballots. Their count showed more than 200 of those ballots were not included in the recount that reversed the election results.

Oklahoma: Chief: Cherokee election recount ‘fatally flawed’ | AP/RealClearPolitics

The leader of one of the nation’s largest American Indian tribes said Monday that the latest count of votes cast in its hotly contested election for chief shows that about 300 votes were left out during a recount.

The count ordered by the Cherokee Supreme Court and done Sunday night by the Cherokee Nation’s election commission “confirms the recount was fatally flawed,” Chief Chad Smith said at a news conference Monday.

Unofficial results from the June 25 election showed councilman Bill John Baker unseated Smith by 11 votes. But when the Cherokee Election Commission announced the official results on June 27, Smith was declared the winner of a fourth term by seven votes.