Oklahoma: Cherokee Nation Election Commission certifies election results Baker wins | Sequoyah County Times

The Cherokee Nation Election Commission certified the election results from the Sept. 24 special election for principal chief. The official results show Bill John Baker received 10,703 votes and Chad Smith received 9,128 votes. Following a three-day counting process, the commission on Wednesday certified the results of the special election. The official results show Baker of Tahlequah received nearly 54 percent of the votes.

According to the tribe’s election law, a request for a recount must be made by 5 p.m. on Oct. 19. Any appeal with the Cherokee Nation Supreme Court challenging the validity of the election, must be made by 5 p.m. on Oct. 24.

Details for an inaugural ceremony to swear in Chief-Elect Baker have not yet been specified. Baker is a Tahlequah businessman who has served multiple terms as a representative on the Cherokee Nation Tribal Council. He holds degrees in political science and history in education with minors in sociology and psychology.

Oklahoma: Cherokee Election Commission: Baker declared unnoffical winner of principal chief election | kjrh.com

Bill John Baker has been declared the unofficial winner in the election for principal chief of the Cherokee Nation, election commission officials announced Tuesday evening. Preliminary numbers show Baker received 54% of the vote with 10,633 ballots cast. Incumbent Chad Smith received 46% of the vote with 9,099 ballots cast.

The election has been embroiled in controversy since June. Both Baker and Smith were at one time declared the winner, prompting the Cherokee Nation Supreme Court to order a new election. Then in August, the court stripped the Freedmen, descendants of slaves once owned by tribal members, of their citizenship and right to vote in the special election.

An agreement to maintain the citizenship and suffrage of the Freedmen was ordered in two separate cases in federal court in September. Tuesday morning, the Cherokee Nation Supreme Court struck down the agreement in one of those cases a federal judge had recently dismissed.

Oklahoma: Cherokee special election: Baker leads in unofficial first count | Tulsa World

After the first day of counting in the Cherokee Nation special election for principal chief, Tribal Council member Bill John Baker unofficially leads former chief Chad Smith by almost 2,200 votes.

At 2 p.m. Sunday, the Cherokee Nation Election Commission released unofficial, machine-counted vote totals by precinct for the tribe’s 38 polling places and walk-in voting, with Baker ahead 6,223 votes to 4,046. That gives Baker an initial lead of 60.6 percent to 39.4 percent.

About 8,700 people voted at their precincts on 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. The election commission has not started counting absentee ballots, and the number that were returned has not been disclosed. About 12,000 absentee ballots were requested for the special election, an increase of 3,800 from the general election.

Oklahoma: Counting Begins in Cherokee Chief Election | KTUL.com

The Cherokee Nation Election Commission has adjourned for the evening and will reconvene Monday tomorrow at 8 a.m. to continue verifying absentee ballots. On Sunday morning the Cherokee Nation Election Commission began counting ballots cast during the special election for Principal Chief.

“We know this has been a long process and that our citizens are eager to know who will serve as the next Principal Chief of the Cherokee Nation,” said Susan Plumb, chairperson of the commission. “The Commission has developed a plan and timeline to decrease the chances of human error and provide the Cherokee people with an election in which they can have faith.”

Oklahoma: Court orders voting open through Oct 8 for all Cherokees | Sequoyah County Times

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.

Oklahoma: Carter Center statement on Cherokee Nation special election | Tahlequah Daily Press

The Carter Center Tuesday issued a lengthy statement about the recent Cherokee Nation special election, as well as recommendations to the tribe’s election commission moving forward. The entire statement can be found here.

The Carter Center congratulates the election commission, candidates, and voters of the Cherokee Nation on a successful election day. Sept. 24 was the only day for voters to cast ballots at 38 precincts in the Nation, but there will be additional opportunities for citizens to cast a ballot at the election commission and for Freedmen to vote by absentee ballot to determine who will be the next principal chief.

… … Overall, Carter Center observation teams commended the competent administration of the election by the election commission and precinct polling staff.  The disciplined conduct of this election was notable given the shifting legal parameters and the additional administrative burden placed on the election commission in the days before the election by the federal court order.

Oklahoma: Cherokees hold election; results won’t be known until next month | Tulsa World

The Cherokee Nation on Saturday held a second election for principal tribal chief, but voters will not know who the winner is until next month. With the ballots not being counted until Oct. 8, official voter turnout figures were not available Saturday. However, outside some polling places, volunteers from both campaigns kept a running total of voters.

“We’ve counted about 400 so far,” said Tribal Council member Jodie Fishinghawk at noon Saturday, who stumped for Tribal Councilor Bill John Baker outside the Wilma P. Mankiller clinic in Stilwell. “That’s about on pace with what we saw here in the June election.”

About 15,000 people voted in the June election, including almost 900 at Stilwell. In accordance with a federal district court order, the Cherokee Nation Election Commission will not count any ballots in the race between former principal chief Chad Smith and Baker until Oct. 8.

Oklahoma: Cherokee Nation, Federal Government Fight Over Rights Of Freed Slave Descendants | Huffington Post

The Cherokee Nation’s election commission voted Wednesday to allow descendants of slaves once owned by tribal members to cast ballots for principal chief, but they’ll only count in the event of a court order.

Federal officials objected to a ruling last month by the tribe’s highest court that found only people of direct Cherokee ancestry could be members of the tribe and vote in the upcoming election, essentially denying ballots to some 2,800 freedmen descendants.

While the election commission’s vote doesn’t directly overturn the ruling by the Cherokee Nation Supreme Court, it does allow for freedmen to cast provisional ballots in an effort to make the election results stand, regardless of how the courts ultimately rule.

Oklahoma: Attorney for Cherokee freedmen questions timing of tribal court ruling | NewsOK.com

The attorney representing freedmen in their case against the Cherokee Nation said Tuesday that he was shocked the tribe’s Supreme Court ruled against the freedmen so close to the special election to pick a new chief.

Attorney Ralph Keen Jr., of Stilwell, said the Cherokee Nation Supreme Court’s ruling, which was handed down on Monday, came a day before the tribe’s election officials sent out absentee ballots for the election between Chad Smith and Bill John Baker.

The tribal court’s decision means about 2,800 freedmen — the ancestors of slaves who had been owned by Cherokee members — won’t be able to vote in the Sept. 24 election. Hall said the timing “shocked me … when you put it in the context of the special tribal election.”

Oklahoma: Cherokee Nation voters prepare for principal chief election | MuskogeePhoenix.com

Cherokee Nation citizens will head to the polls in a little over a month to determine who will lead the tribe for the next four years. Following the June 25 general election, the Supreme Court of the Cherokee Nation ruled the election for principal chief invalid, due to the inability to determine the results between former Principal Chief Chad Smith and challenger Bill John Baker, a two-term tribal councilor. A new election for principal chief has been called for Saturday, Sept. 24.

Acting Principal Chief Joe Crittenden, who will resume his duties as deputy chief once the Sept. 24 election concludes, wants all citizens to participate in the process.

Oklahoma: Cherokee Councilors boycott special meeting | Native Times

Failing to make quorum, the Cherokee Nation Tribal Council did not take action on potential amendments to the tribe’s election code at a special meeting Friday afternoon.

Twenty minutes before the meeting’s scheduled 3 p.m. start time, principal chief candidate and Tribal Council member Bill John Baker, along with councilors Tina Glory-Jordan of Hulbert, Okla., Chuck Hoskin Jr., of Vinita, Okla., Jodie Fishinghawk from Stilwell, Okla., and Curtis Snell from Rose, Okla., issued a statement through Baker’s campaign that they would not be attending the special council. The five called the meeting illegal due to the presence of proposed election law amendments on the agenda that had not been vetted by the council’s rules committee.

“The Tribal Council rules are crystal clear that an issue cannot be addressed by the council unless it has first been considered and passed out of a council committee, “ Baker said in the statement.

Oklahoma: Cherokee Nation special chief’s election set Sept. 24 | Tahlequah Daily Press

The Cherokee Nation’s special election for principal chief has been set for Saturday, Sept. 24. The date, set by Principal Chief Chad Smith according to tribal law, should allow ample time for tribal citizens to participate. Candidates for the special election are incumbent Smith, a three-term principal chief; and challenger Bill John Baker, a three-term tribal councilor.

The special election is the result of the CN Supreme Court’s ruling that vacated the results of the June 25 election, in which both Smith and Baker filed lawsuits. The court vacated the results of the election on Thursday, June 21, stating it was impossible to determine the results with any mathematical certainty. Cherokee Nation law indicates, in such cases, a special election must be called by the principal chief “as soon as practical.”

Oklahoma: Cherokee Nation commissioners mull election issues | Tahlequah Daily Press

The Cherokee Nation Election Commission decided Tuesday morning to delay filling a vacancy created by the resignation of former Chairman Roger Johnson. The EC opted to instead wait until after tribe’s attorney general issues opinions on the upcoming special election for principal chief, and a rules committee and special tribal council meeting have been held over the next two weeks.

Three of the four commissioners – Patsy Eads-Morton, Brenda Walker and Curtis Rohr – met with commission attorney Lloyd Cole Tuesday. Martha Calico was absent, but only three commissioners are needed to make a quorum.

Oklahoma: Election waits on tribal Attorney General ruling | MuskogeePhoenix.com

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.

Editorials: Election chance to restore faith – Cherokee election process under review | MuskogeePhoenix.com

The Cherokee Nation Supreme Court’s order for a new election gives the candidates for principal chief a second chance to declare a definitive win. It also gives the tribe’s embattled election commission a chance to restore faith in the system.

The contest between Principal Chief Chad Smith and challenger Bill John Baker became a back-and-forth tug-of-war during the days immediately following the June 25 general election.

After both candidates were declared winners — then losers — allegations of fraud and deception surfaced. The integrity of the tribe’s election process suffered, and at least one commissioner targeted for criticism became a casualty of the bitter contest.

Oklahoma: Cherokee Nation Supreme Court throws out election for chief of Oklahoma’s largest Indian tribe | The Washington Post

The Cherokee Nation’s Supreme Court on Thursday threw out the results of a disputed election to determine the chief of Oklahoma’s largest Native American tribe following weeks of legal wrangling and multiple vote tallies that each came out with a different number.

The court’s ruling means a new election will be held in Tahlequah, although a date was not set by the five-justice court. At stake is the leadership of 300,000 Cherokees, one of the largest tribes in the U.S. Uncertainty about the accuracy of the results of the June 25 election and repeated flip-flopping in terms of the declared winner has eroded confidence among Cherokee voters.

Oklahoma: Cherokee challenger asks for ballots to be thrown out or new election | Tulsa World

Cherokee Nation Chief candidate Bill John Baker has asked the tribe’s Supreme Court to either set aside questionable ballots or order a new election, filings in the case show. The Supreme Court issued an order Monday afternoon requiring all motions, pleadings and briefs be turned in by noon Tuesday for the 6 p.m. hearing.

Baker’s camp has filed three motions with the court, two concerning the ballots and one requesting the justices call for a new election within 30 days.

In one of the filings, Baker and his attorneys ask that the court set aside all ballots that have been erased for one candidate and remarked for another candidate. These ballots were unable to be read by machines due to erasures, white-out markings, smudges or other alterations on the ballot and had to be hand-tallied.

Oklahoma: Cherokee Nation Chief Still Undecided After Weekend Recount | KOTV.com

After two days recounting the recount, there’s a new vote tally, but not a new Chief of the Cherokee Nation. In a hand recount of votes over the weekend, Chad Smith won by a narrow five votes but that may not mean he gets to keep his job.

A Cherokee Nation lawyer compares it to the Bush-Gore race in Florida. It was unchartered territory for America. Now, Smith-Baker is testing the laws of the Cherokee Nation. After a painstaking two days of counting more than 15,000 ballots, this announcement from Chief Chad Smith:

“I’ve come out ahead,” Chief Chad Smith said. But his challenger, Bill John Baker, says not so fast.

Oklahoma: Second recount goes to Smith – Final say still lies with Cherokee Supreme Court | MuskogeePhoenix.com

Which man will be the Cherokee Nation’s principal chief will not be officially determined until tribal court justices consider challenged votes. Unofficial results of the second recount in the race give incumbent Principal Chief Chad Smith the edge with five votes.

However, the numbers aren’t yet certified, and officials did not release the number of challenged votes. The court reconvenes at 6 p.m. Tuesday. Officials spent more than 20 hours counting ballots on Saturday and Sunday — the second recount since the June 25 election.

Smith made a brief announcement once the recount was complete, thanking his supporters first, then announcing his five-vote lead. “After a long effort and a long day, we are pleased with this result,” Smith said. “This shows that every Cherokee vote was counted.”

Oklahoma: Cherokee election recount progressing slowly | MiamiHerald.com

A second manual recount of votes in the hotly-contested Cherokee Nation principal chief’s election began on Saturday, but campaign officials said progress was slow and that it would likely stretch into a second day.

Three-term incumbent Chief Chad Smith; his challenger, longtime tribal councilman Bill John Baker; their attorneys and the tribal Supreme Court justices watched as the roughly 15,000 ballots cast for the June 25 election were counted at the American Indian tribe’s election commission headquarters in Tahlequah. Reporters were not allowed into the room, but both sides said it appeared the proceedings would continue into Sunday.

Oklahoma: Second recount in Cherokee elections starts Saturday | MiamiHerald.com

Cherokee Nation election commissioners will begin a second recount Saturday in the close and hotly contested election for the leader of Oklahoma’s largest American Indian tribe.

Results from the June 25 election have been in dispute since they were announced the morning after. Unofficial results showed longtime councilman Bill John Baker winning by 11 votes, but when the Cherokee Nation Election Commission announced its official results the next day it said Principal Chief Chad Smith had won a fourth term by seven votes.

A June 30 recount ended with Baker up by 266 votes, but the tribe’s highest court ordered another recount Tuesday.

Oklahoma: Chief candidates offer up ideas for recount | MuskogeePhoenix.com

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.

Oklahoma: Cherokee Nation Orders Second Recount In Chief Election | KOTV.com

The Cherokee Nation Supreme Court ordered another recount Tuesday in the election for Principal Chief. The second recount will be done by hand and will start at 8:30 a.m. this Saturday, July 16, 2011.

The race has been the center of controversy since the election on June 25, 2011. Chief Chad Smith was initially declared the winner by just seven votes over challenger Bill John Baker. Baker ordered a recount and was declared the winner by 266 votes last week.

But over the weekend, the Cherokee Nation Supreme Court counted absentee ballots. Their count showed more than 200 of those ballots were not included in the recount that reversed the election results.

Oklahoma: Chief: Cherokee election recount ‘fatally flawed’ | AP/RealClearPolitics

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.

Oklahoma: Inventory of votes discovers ballots missing during recount | kjrh.com

After an inventory of absentee ballots from last month’s Cherokee Nation principal chief election, members of Chief Chad Smith’s camp say officials found some inconsistencies.

In last month’s election, longtime councilmember Bill John Baker was originally unofficially deemed the next principal chief, winning by 11 votes; however, the next day the election commission officially certified the results, which named Smith the election winner by seven votes. After a recount, the title was given back to Baker, naming him the winner by 266 votes.

Smith sought help from the Cherokee Nation Supreme Court to appeal the recount.  The court ordered an inventory of absentee ballots and envelopes over the weekend.

Oklahoma: Automated Election Services consultant denies changing chief race outcome | Cherokee Phoenix

The president of the election service hired by the tribe to help conduct the June 25 general election denied changing the outcome of the principal chief’s race by annotating a tally sheet.

Terry Rainey, president of Automated Election Services, testified he did not know who was winning the election in the early hours of June 26 despite being part of the counting process. During questioning by Tim Baker, Principal Chief-elect Bill John Baker’s brother and attorney, Rainey also stated no one from either Bill John Baker’s campaign or Principal Chief Chad Smith’s campaign contacted him about election results between Sunday and Monday mornings.

Rainey has taken the witness stand several times in Smith’s repeal of the principal chief’s race, which Bill John Baker was certified the winner of after a June 30 recount.

Oklahoma: Cherokee Nation Supreme Court stops to count envelopes | MuskogeePhoenix.com

The Cherokee Nation Supreme Court interrupted its third day of hearing Principal Chief Chad Smith’s challenge to the June 25 election results to do a little counting of its own.

Shortly after Chief-elect Bill John Baker’s team completed its direct examination of Terry Rainey, president of Automated Election Services, the court ordered an examination of the absentee ballots and the corresponding mailing envelopes.

Rainey told the court that comparison would be the best way to establish a base line to determine whether Smith’s allegations of “vanishing votes” are credible.

Oklahoma: Cherokee justices order voter comparison in recount appeal | Tulsa World

Cherokee Supreme Court justices Saturday ordered a comparison of the 15,000 voters who participated in the June 25 election for principal chief with the 300,000 registered Cherokee Nation members who are eligible to vote.

The action came during a hearing on Principal Chief Chad Smith’s appeal of the election. He had asked the court to order an electronic recount or to invalidate the election and call a new one. Bill John Baker is the chief-elect, having won by a 266-vote margin in a hand recount on June 30.

The comparison could match names of voters who should not have been able to vote, as first reported in a Tulsa World review of databases provided by the Cherokee Election Commission.

Oklahoma: Court hears testimony on absentee ballots | Muskogee Phoenix

Concerns that some 273 absentee ballots were not tallied in the recount to determine the next leader of the Cherokee Nation seemed to  evaporate Saturday. Two witnesses testified the absentee ballots counted by hand immediately after the election because they could not be tabulated automatically were counted and tallied during the recount.

The first witness observed the recount on behalf of Principal Chief Chad Smith. The second witness, called by Chief-elect Bill John Baker, counted and tallied the ballots at issue. Valerie Giebel, a University of Tulsa law student and Smith campaign volunteer, said during direct examination she saw things that caused concern. But she said she saw counters use a calculator to tally the hand-counted absentee ballots and the “total was moved over to the tally sheet.”

Oklahoma: Supreme Court allows release of Election Commission’s voters list | Cherokee Phoenix

After showing concern about its disclosure, Cherokee Nation Supreme Court justices on Saturday ordered the Election Commission to provide the court a list of names and tribal identification numbers of everyone who voted in the June 25 election.

The list was made available as part of Principal Chief Chad Smith’s appeal of the June 30 recount results that gave his opponent, Tribal Councilor Bill John Baker, a 266-vote victory. Baker is attempting to defend his victory in the appeal hearing that began Friday and lasted nearly 14 hours yesterday.

“It ended like the day began. The election commissioners acknowledged they made a mistake in issuing the certificate (certifying the recount), and through the course of the day that has not changed. It’s been a long day, but it still looks very good for us. We’re still very pleased,” Smith said. He added that he’s “pleased” the court allowed the release of the voters list.