Cherokee Supreme Court justices Saturday ordered a comparison of the 15,000 voters who participated in the June 25 election for principal chief with the 300,000 registered Cherokee Nation members who are eligible to vote.
The action came during a hearing on Principal Chief Chad Smith’s appeal of the election. He had asked the court to order an electronic recount or to invalidate the election and call a new one. Bill John Baker is the chief-elect, having won by a 266-vote margin in a hand recount on June 30.
The comparison could match names of voters who should not have been able to vote, as first reported in a Tulsa World review of databases provided by the Cherokee Election Commission.
… The second day of the hearing began with scrutiny from both sides on statements given by Terry Rainey, the owner of Automated Election Services, on whether the machine-powered process of counting absentee ballots could explain the differences between the initial vote count and the June 30 hand recount.
The Supreme Court proceedings follow Smith’s appeal of the 2011 Cherokee Nation Election results that initially had an 11-vote margin but later found a victory for Baker with a 266-vote margin.
The hearing continued into Saturday evening with several more witnesses slated to give testimony, and Cherokee Supreme Court Justices did not openly discuss whether the hearing will continue into Sunday.
A large focus of the Baker campaign’s attorneys has been on Rainey and his acknowledgement in a deposition and in court that a double count of absentee votes could explain the difference between the initial count and hand recount.
On Saturday, Rainey clarified statements in his deposition about the possibility of a double count by one of his high-speed “tabulators.” Rainey said he reached the same conclusion, but only because he worked through the numbers in the manner offered by Baker-campaign attorneys.
Deposition statements from Rainey offered in court by attorney Jason Aamodt showed more definitive answers, including that a machine double-count of votes would be the “obvious conclusion.”
In other testimony, vote-counting watchers Valerie Giebel and Melanie Knight offered observations of the recount vote. Giebel, a ballot-counting watcher representing the Smith campaign, said she observed disorganization among the counters that could have led to shoddy results.
Giebel testified that some of the counters were “fan-counting” ballots by flipping through a stack between their hands. Other counters were tired, which could have led to miscounts, she said.