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.
More than 8,700 people voted at their precincts 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.
According to its timeline, the commission will spend part of Sunday and all day Monday verifying absentee ballots once the in-person ballots are counted. Almost 12,000 absentee ballots were requested for the special election, an increase of 3,800 from the June 25 general election. The number of absentee ballots returned for the special election has not been disclosed.
The absentee ballots will be counted Tuesday, followed by the challenge ballots.
A challenge ballot is one given to someone whose name is not on a voter registration list at a precinct. The voter must fill out a registration form at the polling place and sign an affidavit confirming his or her eligibility to vote in the election. Each one must be individually reviewed before it is counted.
In a statement, the commissioners said they expect to have the complete unofficial results published by Wednesday.