CNEC to wait 48 hours to certify election results
9/14/2011 11:18:39 AM
 
During the Election Commission meeting on Sept. 13, Election Commissioner Martha Calico, right, holds up documentation of the final locations of precincts for the upcoming principal chief election to other EC commissioners. JAMI CUSTER/CHEROKEE PHOENIX
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During the Election Commission meeting on Sept. 13, Election Commissioner Martha Calico, right, holds up documentation of the final locations of precincts for the upcoming principal chief election to other EC commissioners. JAMI CUSTER/CHEROKEE PHOENIX
By JAMI CUSTER Reporter TAHLEQUAH, Okla. – The Cherokee Nation Election Commission approved a motion at its Sept. 13 meeting that calls for the EC to wait 48 hours before certifying unofficial election results after ballot counting has ceased. EC Commissioner Susan Plumb said she believes not only does the EC need additional ballot counters, but also a break between unofficial results and certified results. “The goal is to have a result that would withstand any scrutiny,” Plumb said. “We can’t do super human work…we can come back in 24 hours and begin to canvass and certify and that’s not unusual. I don’t find anywhere that there’s an immediate certification requirement in any other election codes.” The EC also approved entering into a Memorandum of Understanding with the Carter Center, which will observe the Sept. 24 election. The Carter Center will deploy a small observation mission for the Sept. 24 special election for principal chief, according to a Sept. 14 news release from the center. Carter Center observers will interview the election commission, political contestants, and others to assess the electoral process. In addition, the Center will observe early voting, as well as election day polling, counting, and tabulation processes. “The June election for Cherokee Nation Principal Chief and its aftermath created uncertainty about the process,” said Avery Davis-Roberts, assistant director of the Carter Center’s Democracy Program. “The Carter Center hopes that our mission to observe the September special election will reassure Cherokee voters, and will help to strengthen the efforts of the election commission, Tribal Council, political contestants, and civil society to ensure the integrity of future elections.” Commissioner Patsy Morton said the EC recently met with Carter Center officials, and the EC was very impressed with their background and abilities. “The people that came were very intelligent and I think they’ll do a great job,” Morton said. Other action taken at the meeting was the selection of Plumb as the EC chairperson. Plumb was nominated by Morton and approved by the EC to hold the position that was vacated by former EC Commissioner Roger Johnson, who resigned in July. “I told the rest of the commission an office was not something that I was seeking, but I would be willing to serve,” Plumb said. “I’m going to need everyone’s expertise and input and I hope to make the election commission more transparent and efficient.” In old business, EC Attorney Lloyd Cole discussed the status of the Freedman issue and it’s effect on the upcoming election. “I guess it’s no secret that there’s been a line drawn in the sand between the Cherokee Nation and the Federal government,” Cole said. “We’ve, unfortunately, got a dog in the fight because we’re sitting here waiting for people to tell us what to do. What happens in the court systems is going to impact us in this forthcoming election.” Cole added that the hearing is Sept. 20, and it appears that the EC isn’t going to have much time to prepare for the decision. Cole said he doesn’t know that a ruling will be issued that day but he suspects that U.S. District Judge Henry Kennedy, who has been presiding over the federal case, is aware that the CN has an upcoming election. Cole said he hopes that Kennedy would have some kind of decision to be made on that day. “I don’t know whether it makes any difference because they’ve already arbitrarily said ‘we don’t care what happens, we’re not recognizing your activities to disenfranchise the Freedman,’” Cole said. The EC also approved the remaining precinct workers needed for the Sept. 24 election, and it also approved a change for the vault entry procedure used during the election process. Plumb proposed amending the EC’s procedures that would require two signatures to enter the vault. “I still would like for us to consider an amendment to our procedures that require during an election period that you require two signatures to enter the vault and a vault log that describes what the purpose of entering the vault was,” Plumb said. “I think it would help us to be very clear and that our actions were deliberate.” Cole suggested that the EC not only incorporate the procedure changes during the counting processes, but also throughout the entire election itself including the time period set aside for recounts. The EC discussed and approved the final locations of precincts for the Sept. 24 election. Other items discussed included approving a request from the Chad Smith campaign requesting that its deposit for the “conditional recount” be returned. Cole said he thought the amount for the machine recount was $3,000. “I researched that, I think it’s refundable,” Cole said. “We did not hold that recount. I looked at the statutes and if you don’t have the recount I don’t think that you are entitled to the deposit.” The EC tabled the approval of the campaign financial reports and the absentee ballot counting procedure and possible hiring of additional counters. The EC plans to discuss the issues at its next meeting. The EC also approved the dates of the special election for the District 2 council seat. Those specific dates are available here.
jami-custer@cherokee.org • 918-453-5560
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