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.
Both camps emphasize the need for multiple examinations of each ballot. Smith and Baker representatives also requested a sufficient number of observers to ensure no deviations from the designated procedures.
The Cherokee Nation Supreme Court, the candidates say, should oversee all aspects of the recount and make immediate determinations regarding all challenged ballots. The candidates’ designated watchers, according to Smith’s proposals, “should be allowed to make immediate objections.”
Concerns expressed by the candidates during the past three weeks include possibilities that ineligible voters cast ballots. There also have been concerns that some ballots were not counted and that ballot tampering occurred.
Candidates said this week they hope today’s recount, which was ordered by the tribe’s highest court after it was unable to determine a winner with mathematical certainty, will put to rest all those issues.