Incumbent Chad Smith On Top In Cherokee Election Recount

Sunday, July 17th 2011, 4:23 pm

By: News On 6

TAHLEQUAH, Oklahoma -- The hand recount of votes in the election for Principal Chief of the Cherokee Nation was completed Sunday night.

The result puts current Chief Chad Smith on top for Principal Chief, but it does not mean a winner has been declared. 

The hand recount is evidence the Cherokee Nation Supreme Court will use to decide whether Smith holds onto the job or if the winner is Bill John Baker.

The next hearing of the Supreme Court will be Tuesday at 6 p.m. at the Cherokee Nation courthouse in Tahlequah.

The results were released after the counters were sent home Sunday evening and the remaining absentee ballots were counted by the five supreme court justices and members of the election commission.

7/16/2011 Related Story: Cherokee Election Recount Proceeding Slowly

It was slow going as teams from both campaigns reviewed each ballot. Smith requested the recount and his appeal was granted by the Cherokee Supreme Court.

The official tally has not been released.

Late Sunday night, Chad Smith issued the following statement:

"Once again, all the ballots were counted, and once again the count shows that I received the most votes.   Tonight's thorough hand recount under the scrutiny and watchful eyes of our Supreme Court Justices proves beyond doubt once again: we have received the most votes fair and square.

The count tonight is a  statistical match with the only certified count to date.  I appreciate the support that everyone has given me, and look forward to the court coming into session on Tuesday evening."

Challenger Bill John Baker's office released a statement Monday morning.

"Tonight we had a third count of every vote, and for the third time we got a new number. With almost 40 more ballots counted this evening than were counted on election day- many with erasure marks or white out on them- there are more questions than ever.

The Supreme Court has asked the candidates not to release any numbers and we respect and will abide by their order.  With a razor thin margin separating my opponent and myself, I look forward to going to court on Tuesday, and sorting through this mess.

The Cherokee People have lost faith in what Chad Smith called a "fatally flawed" process and I am hopeful that we can find a means to make sure that it is the will of the Cherokee People who elect our Chief."


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