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Cherokee Election Commission Will See If Former Citizens Voted

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The Cherokee National Capitol building. The Cherokee National Capitol building.
Bill John Baker [left] Chad Smith [right] Bill John Baker [left] Chad Smith [right]

TAHLEQUAH, Oklahoma – The Cherokee Nation Election Commission was granted permission to see if any former Cherokee citizens voted in last month's disputed Principal Chief election.

The Cherokee Supreme Court gave the go ahead Saturday during a hearing to determine the winner in the close election.

The commission will check a list of voters against a list of relinquished Cherokee citizens who are not eligible to vote in Cherokee elections. To do so, they will release a list of "C.O. numbers," a unique number given to every Cherokee citizen, to compare with the list of citizens who cast their votes.

Attorneys for Bill John Baker raised the concern that relinquished citizenship is an issue that should be dealt with on the district court level, according to Cherokee law, and should not be handled by the supreme court.

07/08/2011 Related Story: Cherokee Nation Tribal Hearing On Chief Election To Continue Saturday

This whole controversy started two weeks ago when Baker was named the un-official winner in the election for chief. But, when the election was certified, current Chief Chad Smith was named the winner. Baker was granted a recount which once again put him on top.

Chief Chad Smith says there's proof absentee ballots were miscounted.

Justices have also heard testimony Saturday from Chad Smith's representatives that were there at the recount.

The two women felt there were discrepancies in the sorting and counting of the ballots; however, neither of them raised any objection at the recount, a Baker attorney pointed out.

If the court finds there is enough evidence that votes were miscounted or not counted at all, it's possible the justices will call for a new election. Under Cherokee law, that duty falls to incumbent Chief Chad Smith, who remains in office until August 14, 2011.

Bill John Baker's attorneys were to present their side of the hearing, although Chad Smith's side has not rested. Smith will be allowed to continue his case after the C.O. numbers are compared to the votes cast.

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