Cherokee Nation officials delayed decisions Tuesday regarding a special election to choose the tribe’s next principal chief. Election commissioners said they are awaiting a response from the tribe’s attorney general regarding three inquiries submitted Friday.
They also are waiting for the tribal council’s appointment of a commissioner to replace Roger Johnson, who resigned after the June 25 election. Officials said the special election issues pending before the attorney general primarily involve three questions of law.
• Can a donor who contributed the maximum amount before the general election make additional campaign contributions before the special election?
• Will the estimated 3,000 Cherokee citizens who registered to vote after the March 31 deadline be eligible to vote in the special election?
• How does a tribal member’s application to relinquish citizenship affect voting rights?
Lloyd Cole, the commission’s independent counsel, said the attorney general’s rulings on these issues could have a significant impact on the special election.
“We’re all in a waiting mode until the next election,” Cole said. “We’re ready to assume our roles in that election.”
The special election for principal chief was ordered by the Cherokee Nation Supreme Court, which was unable to determine with mathematical certainty a winner of the June 25 general election.
The high court’s ruling came in response to a legal challenge by Principal Chief Chad Smith after challenger Bill John Baker was declared the winner June 30 after a manual recount of more than 15,000 ballots.
The court found that recount flawed due to a 251-vote discrepancy in the number of ballots counted after the general election and the totals tallied during the recount.
Smith, who attended Tuesday’s special meeting, said the questions referred by the commissioners to the attorney general’s office have been assigned.