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.”
“This was the date recommended by the election commission to best allow our citizens to fully participate in the election,” said Smith in a press release Friday. “I understand that the Cherokee people are ready to elect their chief, and many feel they already have. But I also understand they don’t want to end up right back here again, with an election that was troubled by irregularities. This time frame gives the election commission and the tribal council a chance to address those issues while still having an election quickly.”
In a statement also released Friday, Baker said he is pleased to move forward with the process.