TAHLEQUAH, Oklahoma – 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.
Smith claims the recount short-changed him by several hundred votes.
Baker responded with claims Smith is trying to steal the election.
According to an order from the Cherokee Nation Supreme Court Tuesday, "at this time in this appellate process, this Court cannot confirm the accuracy of the results" to a "mathematical certainty."
Baker's campaign released a statement following the announcement of a second recount Tuesday afternoon:
The Baker campaign salutes the Supreme Court for their hard work and diligence focused on the disputed race for Principle Chief to date.Bill John Baker looks forward to having Cherokees hand count ballots that have shown him the winner twice and he fully expects this will make him the winner a third and final time.
"I have always said that I trust Cherokees counting votes over anything else. Therefore I am thrilled that the Court chose to reject Chad Smith's demand that the ballots only be counted by machines; machines run by the same man who entered the ballot vault and changed numbers on a tally sheet" said Chief Elect Baker.
"Every time Cherokees have counted the votes in the light of day, I have been named the winner, and I expect no difference this time. Hopefully this count will finally satisfy everyone, and the lawsuits and name calling can stop, and we can get back to the work of the Cherokee People."
News On 6 talked to Chad Smith Tuesday evening:
"It's a very good day. What the court has determined is that it was a fatally flawed recount. The court found they could not certify the election, the recount. That means now that I am the principal chief elect by the original count."
"Come Saturday, we'll have a hand recount of every ballot. It's what we asked for in our pleadings. We asked that every Cherokee vote be counted, so that's finally going to happen on Saturday."
"We believe the recount will reaffirm the original vote that I was elected Principal Chief. And it's even more rewarding that the court understood that those 270 votes that didn't get counted the first round in the recount, so we're pleased."