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.
A recount done at Baker’s request then reversed the results again, putting him ahead by 266 votes. That’s the count Smith said was flawed.
“The only time all the ballots were counted, I was elected chief,” he said, referring to the initial declaration by the tribe’s election commission.
In a statement Monday afternoon, Baker accused Smith of trying to steal the election “he clearly lost, rather than do the honorable thing and concede.”
Smith said the recount shortchanged him by several hundred votes and the Baker campaign spoke too soon when it declared Baker the principal chief-elect. However, the chief stopped short of declaring himself the victor.