The Cherokee Nation Election Commission continued to navigate around roadblocks in the tribe’s efforts to elect a principal chief this week. In the meantime, the two candidates — Chad Smith and Bill John Baker — continued to throw barbs at one another.
On Tuesday the election commission held a special meeting to determine how to comply with a federal court order that all tribal members have until Oct. 8 to vote for a principal chief. Due to vote-count inconsistencies in the first election in June, the tribe held a second election Saturday for principal chief, and will keep the ballot box open for freedmen until Oct. 8, as ordered by a federal court. But the federal court on Tuesday ordered that the ballot box and election had to be open to all tribal members not just the freedmen.
“A new court order has added additional voting days for any registered Cherokee Nation voter and stipulates that no ballots be counted until after the last voting opportunity on Oct. 8,” the election commission said in a prepared statement released Tuesday.
Consequently, any member of the Cherokee Nation may vote until the ballot box is closed on Oct. 8. The commission said votes will not be counted until Oct. 9, as directed by the court.
In the press release the election commission announced, “As a result of the order, any eligible, registered voter who has not yet cast a ballot in this election may do so by participating in walk-in voting that will be held on Sept. 29, Oct. 1, Oct. 4 and Oct. 6 from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. or Oct. 8 from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. at the election commission office in Tahlequah.
“The commission will also accept absentee ballots from any eligible, registered voter who requested an absentee ballot, but has yet to vote that ballot, until Oct. 8. Absentee ballots may be hand delivered to the election commission offices on any of the walk-in voting days. Absentee ballots can also be mailed to the election commission but must be received in Tahlequah by noon on Oct. 8.”