NewsOn6.com & Emily Baucum, News On 6
TAHLEQUAH, Oklahoma -- Cherokee Nation Principal Chief Chad Smith says the latest count of the total votes cast in the recent election for chief shows a recount of the votes "was fatally flawed."
Chad Smith spoke at a news conference Monday after the tribal election commission counted the ballots Sunday night.
Smith was initially declared the winner of the June 25, 2011 election by seven votes over challenger Bill John Baker. A recount was ordered at the request of Baker and showed Baker with a 266 vote lead.
Smith claims the recount shortchanged him by several hundred votes.
Supreme Court justices burned the midnight oil counting absentee ballots over the weekend. Their count showed more than 200 of those ballots were not included in the recount.
The official court documents are signed by justices, Lloyd Cole, the election commission's lawyer, and by both candidates.
The numbers show there were 5,926 absentee ballots, excluding the hand-counted ballots. There were 265 of those and Smith says those were not included in the recount tally.
"The lost votes were all my votes," Chief Chad Smith said.
Chad Smith released the following statement Monday afternoon:
The Supreme Court yesterday abruptly halted proceedings and determined first hand there were hundreds of votes missing from the recount. The court ordered the parties and Election Commission office to count the total number of absentee ballots and envelopes.
After six hours of counting that Baker and his lawyers witnessed, everyone had to agree in writing to number of total number of absentee ballots and envelopes of the Principal Chief's race. These totals conclusive showed that hundreds of votes were missing from the recount and that the recount was fatally flawed.
The total counts confirmed what each Commissioner testified to during the hearing that the recount was not accurate. The certificate for the recount was fundamentally wrong.
During the hearings Baker was willing to do and say anything to defend this wrongful recount. He attacked innocent people, impeached his own witnesses and demeaned good people. That indicates how he would run the Cherokee Nation if he ever got the chance.
Last night, Bill John signed off on a document which admitted the recount was wrong. Today, he mounts yet another vicious attack filled with unfounded lies and saying the exact opposite. He has lost all credibility.
In his quest for power, he's willing to become chief even if he has to cheat to do it.
The math is pretty simple; there were nearly 300 ballots left uncounted in the recount. It more closely matches the first official results of the Election Commission and it's obvious that Bill John likely lost the election.
Above all else, we continue to maintain that every Cherokee citizen's vote must be counted.
Bill John Baker's campaign office released the following statement via email Monday:
Chad Smith is trying to steal this election he clearly lost rather than do the honorable thing and concede. Bill John had the most votes election night until Terry Rainey- a man who has made a Million Dollars off of all the elections that Smith has won- went into the vault that contains the ballots two times and altered the numbers so that Smith was named the winner.
Bill John again put the Cherokee Nation ahead of his interest and demanded and paid for a recount which he AGAIN won. And what is even more troubling, after Smith's appointees have controlled the ballots the past 15 days, yesterday we learn that there are now more ballots than there are envelopes the ballots were mailed in. It's obvious that the ballot box was stuffed by people with access to the vault.
These people cannot be trusted. Smith has no shame. He behaves like a dictator who believes the Cherokee Nation belongs to him and his henchmen and not the good people of our Nation.
Smith cannot be trusted. It is time for Smith to go.
Mike Miller, spokesperson for the Chad Smith campaign for principal chief, said the statement includes "accusations but no evidence, no facts."
Miller also questions the credibility of a statement that is basically anonymous. The email is entitled a "A Statement from the Bill John Baker Campaign, " but none of the claims are attributed to Baker, himself.
He went on to say the Baker campaign is "making charges and offering no proof."
Bill John Baker's win-at-any-cost style is demeaning to the Cherokee people. He can't have it both ways.
Chad Smith says the next step is for the Cherokee Nation's Supreme Court to hold hearings on the results of the latest count.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.