DEVELOPING: Smith petitions Supreme Court for another recount
Principal Chief Chad Smith approaches the Cherokee Nation Capitol Building to file an appeal late Friday afternoon. BRYAN POLLARD/CHEROKEE PHOENIX
TAHLEQUAH, Okla. – Principal Chief Chad Smith filed a petition
late Friday afternoon asking the tribe’s Supreme Court to order the Election Commission to “complete its currently incomplete recount” in the principal chief race by “counting all the votes cast in that election.”
“The commission does not dispute that its recount results fail to include all votes lawfully cast. Therefore, the commission has not concluded its recount and refuses to do so,” states Smith’s petition.
Smith asks that the commission conduct another count, which would be the fourth if it occurs, with a machine. He states that on June 27 a machine was used to count a majority of the votes when he was certified as winning the race against Tribal Councilor Bill John Baker.
He also accuses the EC of failing to utilize “lawfully enacted regulations governing recounts” and states that the commission refused to allow the candidates to have designated representatives at the nine recounting stations.
Cherokee Nation election law states prior to a recount the Supreme Court shall hear evidence as to whether ballots were preserved by the EC in the manner prescribed by law, which was done June 30 before the official recount started.
“The judgment of the court regarding such questions shall be final and conclusive,” states the election law in regards to determining whether the official recount can occur.
The commission, with a representative from both campaigns, performed a recount by hand on June 30 and certified Baker as the winner by 266 votes. Baker finished with 7,613 votes to Smith’s 7,347. Before the recount, the totals showed Smith had 7,609 votes and Baker 7,602.
In accordance with election law, figures gathered during the recount shall “be controlling” over earlier figures if said earlier figures are different. Also, after the recount, the commission and the Supreme Court confirm the accuracy of the results.
“The certified recount results shall be the final official election results and no further recounts shall be held,” the law states.
Smith claims his votes were undercounted because 270 votes were not counted in the recount. He claims the commission is unable to explain the reason why it did not record those votes.
“Even when I was ahead, my challenger and I always agreed that every vote should count. I hope that my challenger still feels this way and will join me calling for a proper accounting of all votes in this election, rather than the fatally flawed recount,” Smith said.
Smith added that he’s requested and paid for a recount, but the EC refused to honor his request.
Election law states that “only a defeated candidate shall be permitted to request a recount.” Because Smith was certified the winner on June 27, the burden fell on Baker as the defeated candidate to request a recount, which Baker did on June 29.
An emailed statement from Baker’s campaign states that each time the votes are counted with the public watching, Baker has come out the winner.
“Smith’s latest attempt to hold onto power is claiming that he does not trust the work of his hand-picked Election Commission,” Baker’s statement reads. “Once again the Smith campaign is claiming irregularities that can only be found when outside eyes aren’t watching. Instead of trusting the dozens of Cherokee citizens, Smith wants one of his outside vendors/campaign supporters to do it. The same outside vendor who improperly breached the security of the vault holding the ballots not once but twice.”
Baker added that Smith should concede and let the Cherokee people unite and move forward.
“The time for politics is over and our focus from here on out is to make sure that the work of the Cherokee people is being done” Baker states. “It’s time to put the Cherokee people first and to be ready to implement our agenda of quality healthcare services, more housing, improving education and creating jobs.” Click here to view the appeal filed by Principal Chief Chad Smith.Click here to view the results of the recount.For more on this story, keep checking firstname.lastname@example.org • 918-207-3961