Recount In Election For Cherokee Nation Chief To Begin Thursday
NewsOn6.com & Dan Bewley, News On 6
TAHLEQUAH, Oklahoma -- Longtime tribal councilman Bill John Baker called the Cherokee election controversy a "black eye" for the Nation during a news conference in Tahlequah Wednesday.
"It's all over the world right now that this is a third world type situation and we need to get it open, we need to get it fair, we need to have a good recount, and let the people know that they had a fair election," he said.
Baker thought he was elected as principal chief of the Cherokee Nation. That was early Sunday morning. Monday afternoon the Cherokee Nation election office announced that Chad Smith would, instead, remain in that position.
Baker said the unofficial results should have been finalized but never were.
He also said there was another count that did not have any poll watchers or marshals present and that Chad Smith was then declared the winner. Baker believes employees of Chief Smith were in the room during that second count, but admits he has no evidence and Smith denies the allegation.
Chad Smith told News On 6, he is confident he will remain chief after recount and denied interfering with process.
"If you couch it as a black eye it speaks more of him than the general public," Smith said.
Chief Smith said the tribe is simply following its rules and laws. He said he hasn't done anything to influence the outcome and feels that after the recount he'll still be principal chief.
"I'm confident in the processes and the laws of the people of the Cherokee Nation and I firmly believe that when all is said and done that I'll remain as principal chief of the Cherokee Nation," Smith said.
The recount is reported to have a price tag of $750 per district. Baker said he will pay for that out of his campaign money.
The Cherokee Supreme Court Wednesday morning ordered the release of voting records from the disputed election for tribal chief to both challenger Bill John Baker and incumbent chief Chad Smith.
Baker on Tuesday asked the tribe's Supreme Court to order the election commission to produce copies of certified vote results for each district and for absentee ballots. Smith said he also wants to see those documents.
The documents that will be released include:
- A copy of the certified election results for each district
- A copy of the certified results for absentee ballots
- Any and all existing documents detailing the changes that occurred between the original vote totals reported on Sunday, June 26 and the certified vote totals reported on Monday, June 27
On Wednesday, the tribal election committee filed a motion with the Cherokee Supreme Court to block Baker's request for the documents. The committee said the records must be kept under lock and key until the recount, which was scheduled for this Friday.
The Cherokee Nation Supreme Court has ordered that the recount be done at 9 a.m. Thursday, June 30 rather than Friday.