Controversy Continues Surrounding Election For Cherokee Nation Chief

Tuesday, July 5th 2011, 12:38 pm
By: News On 6

TAHLEQUAH, Oklahoma -- The Cherokee Nation Election Commission chairman has submitted his resignation citing his reputation was damaged over the election and the election recount for Cherokee Nation principal chief.

In his letter, Roger Johnson says "My honor, character and integrity have been unreasonably damaged by untruths and misleading reports and conclusions. For me to continue as an effective Commissioner under these circumstances is impossible."

Read Roger Johnson's resignation letter.

Read Roger Johnson's resignation letter statement.

After the election on Saturday, June 25, 2011, the election commission released unofficial vote totals showing Bill John Baker had won by 11 votes.

An official count on Monday, showed incumbent chief Chad Smith had won by 7 votes.

Baker then asked for a recount.

Johnson says a story in the Tulsa World which did not use the word "unofficial" in reporting on Sunday's vote totals "set in motion the perception of wrongdoing by the Election Commission." Because of that, Johnson states he "cannot effectively continue to serve as Chairperson under this cloud of doubt."

In a recount of the election on Thursday, June 30, 2011, Bill John Baker was named the winner over Chad Smith by 266 votes.

7/1/2011 Related Story: Baker Defeats Smith In Recount For Cherokee Nation Chief

Chad Smith filed an appeal of the recount the next day, Friday, July 1, 2011. Smith says his opponent is being hypocritical while Bill John Baker says Smith is clinging to power.

Read Chad Smith's latest appeal filed Tuesday, July 5, 2011

"I won this election, no doubt about it," Baker said.

"And what we see here is that the election is not over," Smith said.

Chad Smith argues not all the ballots were counted.

"And for someone to suggest that every vote should not count, to cheat people out of their voice in the Cherokee election, tells me that someone will do anything to become chief, to become elected," he said.

Baker wants Smith to stop the appeals and start working on the transition.

But the appeals will go forward. The Cherokee Supreme Court meets Friday to hear Smith's argument that the recount wasn't complete and should be repeated by a machine.

"Chad Smith can continue to sue his way around losing the election in what is frankly a desperate attempt to cling to power," Baker said.

But Smith believes the election isn't over, until his appeal is finished. It was Baker's appeal that changed the outcome of the election the last time.

"We're hopeful that in the next few days the court will sort everything out and we will know once and for all who is principal chief," Smith said.